A Twin Study of Inhibitory Control at Age Two and ADHD Behavior Problems at Age Three. Academic Article uri icon


  • Low levels of childhood inhibitory control (IC) are phenotypically and genetically associated with externalizing behavior problems and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, there is little research on this topic in early childhood, when IC first emerges. This investigation extends the previous findings of contemporaneous genetic covariance between parent-rated and laboratory-assessed IC and ADHD at age 2 by examining longitudinal links between IC at age two and ADHD behavior problems at age three in a sample of 314 same-sex twin pairs (145 monozygotic or MZ, 169 dizygotic or DZ). There were significant phenotypic associations between both parent and laboratory IC assessments at age two and later ADHD behavioral problems (correlations ranged from - .15 to - .44). In our model-fitting strategy, we included measures of ADHD and IC at age 2 as predictors of ADHD at age 3. Longitudinal genetic analyses showed that phenotypic covariance between age two IC and ADHD behavior problems one year later were explained by overlapping genetic variance (genetic correlations ranged from - .28 to - .60). However, these effects were not unique to IC and reflect variance shared with ADHD at age 2. Parent-rated IC at age two showed higher phenotypic and genetic covariance with ADHD at age three than lab ratings of IC at age two. This is the first investigation examining genetic covariance between parent and lab-based IC at age two and ADHD behavior problems at age three. Findings show that after accounting for co-occurring ADHD, early temperamental IC is not a unique genetic risk factor for later ADHD.

published proceedings

  • Behav Genet

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Gagne, J. R., Asherson, P., & Saudino, K. J.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Gagne, Jeffrey R||Asherson, Philip||Saudino, Kimberly J

publication date

  • July 2020