Comorbid symptoms of inattention, autism, and executive cognition in youth with putative genetic risk

Anne B. Arnett, Brianna E. Cairney, Arianne S. Wallace, Jennifer Gerdts, Tychele N. Turner, Evan E. Eichler, Raphael A. Bernier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and inattention (IA) are highly comorbid and associated with deficits in executive cognition. Cognitive deficits have been posited as candidate endophenotypes of psychiatric traits, but few studies have conceptualized cognitive deficits as psychiatric comorbidities. The latter model is consistent with a latent factor reflecting broader liability to neuropsychological dysfunction, and explains heterogeneity in the cognitive profile of individuals with ASD and IA. Methods: We tested competing models of covariance among symptoms of ASD, IA, and cognition in a sample of 73 youth with a known genetic mutation. Results: A common executive factor fit best as a cognitive comorbidity, rather than endophenotype, of the shared variance between measures of IA and ASD symptoms. Known genetic risk explained a third of the shared variance among psychiatric and cognitive measures. Conclusions: Comorbid symptoms of ASD, IA, and cognitive deficits are likely influenced by common neurogenetic factors. Known genetic risk in ASD may inform future investigation of putative genetic causes of IA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-276
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • ADHD
  • attention
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • executive function
  • genetics


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