Cognition & Cognitive training: Autism and ADHD

Goal 1

To examine the neuropsychological profile of children and teens with and autism and/or ADHD diagnosis.

Goal 2

To examine whether specific executive functions can be trained in children and teens with autism and/or ADHD diagnosis.

Results 1

Children with ADHD are thought to have more profound difficulties in inhibition and children with autism in cognitive flexibility. However, in a direct comparison this is not as clear cut as thought based on studying each of these disorders in isolation. The cognitive challengesin the autism group were more profound and wide spread as compared to the ADHD group. Children with both diagnoses were more variable in their responding. In our current studies we are, for example, testing whether the inhibition problem observed in children with autism (2004 paper) can be replicated.

Results 2

We studied whether EF training Braingame Brian is a suitable treatment for children with an ASD diagnosis. We compared two versions of the training (a working memory training and a cognitive flexibility training) with an active control training (mock-training). Of the 121 children who participated in the study, 90 children completed all sessions. Children in all three training groups (working memory, cognitive flexibility-, and mock-training group) improved in working memory, cognitive flexibility and sustained attention as measured with tasks performed by the children. Moreover, all three training groups improved in EF, social behavior, ADHD-characteristics and quality of life as measured with questionnaires filled out by their parents. However, children who performed the working memory or cognitive flexibility training did not improve much more than children who performed the mock-training. Limited effects were found; the working memory training resulted in slightly more improvement on a working memory task and ADHD characteristics as measured with a questionnaire. The cognitive flexibility training resulted in slightly more improvement on a cognitive flexibility task. The main goal, that training-effects would generalise to daily life, was not achieved. We studied whether the training would be suitable for subgroups of children with ASD. However, intelligence, autism characteristics, working memory and cognitive flexibility, Theory of Mind, and reward sensitivity did not affect performance on the training nor training effects. Hence, unfortunately, the training does not appear a suitable intervention for children with an ASD diagnosis. Another research group tested whether the training was suitable for children with an ADHD diagnosis. For these children the training seems more beneficial.

We also studied whether an Planningstraining Plan my life is a suitable treatment for teens with an ADHD diagnosis. The findings for this study will be added soon. The training was also tested in a small group of teens with an ASD diagnosis, but the training seemed to need many adjustment to be suitable for this specific group.

Related publications

Two Novel CBTs for Adolescents with ADHD: The Value of Planning Skills. Boyer, B., Geurts, H.M., Prins, P.J.M., van der Oord, S. , Adolescent Psychiatry, 24, DOI: 10.1007/s00787-014-0661-5
Planning skills in autism spectrum disorder across the lifespan: A meta-analysis and meta-regression Olde Dubbelink, L., & Geurts, H.M., Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47, DOI: 10.1007/s10803-016-3013-0
Exploring possible predictors and moderators of an executive function training for children with an autism spectrum disorder de Vries, M., Verdam M.G., Prins P.J., Schmand B.A., Geurts, H.M. , Autism, 22, DOI: 10.1177/1362361316682622
ADHD en autisme: Zijn er verschillen? Geurts, H.M., Neuropraxis, 1, DOI: 10.1007/BF03078993
Braingame Brian: Een executieve functietraining met game-elementen voor kinderen met ADHD Ten Brink, E., Dovis, S., Ponsioen, A., Geurts, H.M., Van der Oord, S., De Vries, M., & Prins, P., In: Braet C., & Bogels S. (eds) Protocollaire behandelingen voor kinderen en adolescenten met psychische klachten
Braingame Brian: Toward an Executive Function Training Program with Game Elements for Children with ADHD and cognitive control problems Pier J.M., Ten Brink, E., Dovis, S., Ponsioen, A., Geurts, H.M., de Vries, M., & van der Oord, S., Games for Health, 2, DOI: 10.1089/g4h.2013.0004
Does reward frequency or magnitude drive reinforcement-learning in ADHD? Luman, M., van Meel, K., Oosterlaan, J., Sergeant, J.A., & Geurts, H.M., Psychiatry Research, 168, DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2008.08.012
Executive functioning theory and autism Geurts, H.M., de Vries, M., & van den Bergh, S., In: Goldstein, S., & Naglieri, J. (eds) Handbook of Executive Functioning, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-8106-5_8
Goal-directed action control in children with autism spectrum disorders Geurts, H.M., & de Wit, S., Autism, 18, DOI: 10.1177/1362361313477919
Hot and cool aspects of cognitive control in children with ADHD: Decision-making and inhibition Geurts, H.M., van der Oord, S., & Crone, E.C., Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34, DOI: 10.1007/s10802-006-9059-2
How specific are executive functioning deficits in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and autism? Geurts, H.M., Verté, S., Oosterlaan, J., Roeyers, H., & Sergeant, J. A., Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00276.x
How specific is a deficit of executive functioning for Attention-Deficit/HyperactivityDisorder Sergeant, J.A., Geurts, H.M., & Oosterlaan, J., Behavioural Brain Research, 130, DOI: 10.1016/S0166-4328(01)00430-2
Intra-Individual Variability in ADHD, Autism, and Tourette’s Syndrome Geurts, H. M., Grasman, R., Verté, S., Oosterlaan, J., Roeyers, H., van Kammen. S., & Sergeant, J. A., Neuropsychologia, 46, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.06.013
One-year follow-up of two CBTs for Adolescents with ADHD Boyer, B., Geurts, H.M., Prins, P.J.M., & van der Oord, S. , European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 25, DOI: 10.1007/s00787-015-0776-3
Planning in autisme: Een kwalitatieve en kwantitatieve analyse Geurts, H.M., & Bringmann, L., Wetenschappelijk Tijdschrift Autisme (WTA price best paper 2010)
Prepotent response inhibition predicts treatment outcome in ADHD Oord van, S., Geurts, H.M., Prins, P.J.M., Emmelkamp, P.M.G., & Oosterlaan, J., Child Neuropsychology, 18, DOI: 10.1080/09297049.2011.559159
Qualitative Treatment-Subgroup Interactions in a Randomized Clinical Trial of Treatments for Adolescents with ADHD: Exploring what Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Works for Whom Boyer, B., Doove, L., Geurts, H.M., Prins, P.J.M., van Mechelen, I., van der Oord, S. , PloS one, 11, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150698
Shared etiology of AD/HD and ASD: a review and directions for future family-genetic studies Rommelse , N.J., Franke, B., Hartman, C.S., Geurts, H.M., & Buitelaar J.K., European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 19, DOI: 10.1007/s00787-010-0092-x
Short Report: Verbal Fluency in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Clustering and Switching Strategies Begeer, S., Wierda, M., Scheeren, A.M., Teunisse, J.P., Koot, H.M., & Geurts, H.M., Autism, 18, DOI: 10.1177/1362361313500381
The Relationship of Working Memory, Inhibition, and Response Variability in Child Psychopathology Verté, S., Geurts, H.M., Roeyers, H., Oosterlaan, J., & Sergeant, J.A., Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 151, DOI: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2005.08.023