Annual research review: Reaction time variability in ADHD and autism spectrum disorders: Measurement and mechanisms of a proposed trans-diagnostic phenotype

Sarah Karalunas, Hilde M. Geurts, Kerstin Konrad, Stephan Bender, Joel Nigg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background Intraindividual variability in reaction time (RT) has received extensive discussion as an indicator of cognitive performance, a putative intermediate phenotype of many clinical disorders, and a possible trans-diagnostic phenotype that may elucidate shared risk factors for mechanisms of psychiatric illnesses. Scope and Methodology Using the examples of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), we discuss RT variability. We first present a new meta-analysis of RT variability in ASD with and without comorbid ADHD. We then discuss potential mechanisms that may account for RT variability and statistical models that disentangle the cognitive processes affecting RTs. We then report a second meta-analysis comparing ADHD and non-ADHD children on diffusion model parameters. We consider how findings inform the search for neural correlates of RT variability. Findings Results suggest that RT variability is increased in ASD only when children with comorbid ADHD are included in the sample. Furthermore, RT variability in ADHD is explained by moderate to large increases (d = 0.63-0.99) in the ex-Gaussian parameter τ and the diffusion parameter drift rate, as well as by smaller differences (d = 0.32) in the diffusion parameter of nondecision time. The former may suggest problems in state regulation or arousal and difficulty detecting signal from noise, whereas the latter may reflect contributions from deficits in motor organization or output. The neuroimaging literature converges with this multicomponent interpretation and also highlights the role of top-down control circuits. Conclusion We underscore the importance of considering the interactions between top-down control, state regulation (e.g. arousal), and motor preparation when interpreting RT variability and conclude that decomposition of the RT signal provides superior interpretive power and suggests mechanisms convergent with those implicated using other cognitive paradigms. We conclude with specific recommendations for the field for next steps in the study of RT variability in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-710
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Volume55
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
Reaction Time
Phenotype
Research
Arousal
Meta-Analysis
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Statistical Models
Neuroimaging
Psychiatry

Keywords

  • ADHD
  • ASD
  • biomarker
  • intraindividual
  • Reaction time variability
  • trans-diagnostic phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

@article{610363e14ce44ef88b646544873c0e7d,
title = "Annual research review: Reaction time variability in ADHD and autism spectrum disorders: Measurement and mechanisms of a proposed trans-diagnostic phenotype",
abstract = "Background Intraindividual variability in reaction time (RT) has received extensive discussion as an indicator of cognitive performance, a putative intermediate phenotype of many clinical disorders, and a possible trans-diagnostic phenotype that may elucidate shared risk factors for mechanisms of psychiatric illnesses. Scope and Methodology Using the examples of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), we discuss RT variability. We first present a new meta-analysis of RT variability in ASD with and without comorbid ADHD. We then discuss potential mechanisms that may account for RT variability and statistical models that disentangle the cognitive processes affecting RTs. We then report a second meta-analysis comparing ADHD and non-ADHD children on diffusion model parameters. We consider how findings inform the search for neural correlates of RT variability. Findings Results suggest that RT variability is increased in ASD only when children with comorbid ADHD are included in the sample. Furthermore, RT variability in ADHD is explained by moderate to large increases (d = 0.63-0.99) in the ex-Gaussian parameter τ and the diffusion parameter drift rate, as well as by smaller differences (d = 0.32) in the diffusion parameter of nondecision time. The former may suggest problems in state regulation or arousal and difficulty detecting signal from noise, whereas the latter may reflect contributions from deficits in motor organization or output. The neuroimaging literature converges with this multicomponent interpretation and also highlights the role of top-down control circuits. Conclusion We underscore the importance of considering the interactions between top-down control, state regulation (e.g. arousal), and motor preparation when interpreting RT variability and conclude that decomposition of the RT signal provides superior interpretive power and suggests mechanisms convergent with those implicated using other cognitive paradigms. We conclude with specific recommendations for the field for next steps in the study of RT variability in neurodevelopmental disorders.",
keywords = "ADHD, ASD, biomarker, intraindividual, Reaction time variability, trans-diagnostic phenotype",
author = "Sarah Karalunas and Geurts, {Hilde M.} and Kerstin Konrad and Stephan Bender and Joel Nigg",
year = "2014",
doi = "10.1111/jcpp.12217",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "55",
pages = "685--710",
journal = "Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines",
issn = "0021-9630",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "6",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Annual research review

T2 - Reaction time variability in ADHD and autism spectrum disorders: Measurement and mechanisms of a proposed trans-diagnostic phenotype

AU - Karalunas, Sarah

AU - Geurts, Hilde M.

AU - Konrad, Kerstin

AU - Bender, Stephan

AU - Nigg, Joel

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - Background Intraindividual variability in reaction time (RT) has received extensive discussion as an indicator of cognitive performance, a putative intermediate phenotype of many clinical disorders, and a possible trans-diagnostic phenotype that may elucidate shared risk factors for mechanisms of psychiatric illnesses. Scope and Methodology Using the examples of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), we discuss RT variability. We first present a new meta-analysis of RT variability in ASD with and without comorbid ADHD. We then discuss potential mechanisms that may account for RT variability and statistical models that disentangle the cognitive processes affecting RTs. We then report a second meta-analysis comparing ADHD and non-ADHD children on diffusion model parameters. We consider how findings inform the search for neural correlates of RT variability. Findings Results suggest that RT variability is increased in ASD only when children with comorbid ADHD are included in the sample. Furthermore, RT variability in ADHD is explained by moderate to large increases (d = 0.63-0.99) in the ex-Gaussian parameter τ and the diffusion parameter drift rate, as well as by smaller differences (d = 0.32) in the diffusion parameter of nondecision time. The former may suggest problems in state regulation or arousal and difficulty detecting signal from noise, whereas the latter may reflect contributions from deficits in motor organization or output. The neuroimaging literature converges with this multicomponent interpretation and also highlights the role of top-down control circuits. Conclusion We underscore the importance of considering the interactions between top-down control, state regulation (e.g. arousal), and motor preparation when interpreting RT variability and conclude that decomposition of the RT signal provides superior interpretive power and suggests mechanisms convergent with those implicated using other cognitive paradigms. We conclude with specific recommendations for the field for next steps in the study of RT variability in neurodevelopmental disorders.

AB - Background Intraindividual variability in reaction time (RT) has received extensive discussion as an indicator of cognitive performance, a putative intermediate phenotype of many clinical disorders, and a possible trans-diagnostic phenotype that may elucidate shared risk factors for mechanisms of psychiatric illnesses. Scope and Methodology Using the examples of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), we discuss RT variability. We first present a new meta-analysis of RT variability in ASD with and without comorbid ADHD. We then discuss potential mechanisms that may account for RT variability and statistical models that disentangle the cognitive processes affecting RTs. We then report a second meta-analysis comparing ADHD and non-ADHD children on diffusion model parameters. We consider how findings inform the search for neural correlates of RT variability. Findings Results suggest that RT variability is increased in ASD only when children with comorbid ADHD are included in the sample. Furthermore, RT variability in ADHD is explained by moderate to large increases (d = 0.63-0.99) in the ex-Gaussian parameter τ and the diffusion parameter drift rate, as well as by smaller differences (d = 0.32) in the diffusion parameter of nondecision time. The former may suggest problems in state regulation or arousal and difficulty detecting signal from noise, whereas the latter may reflect contributions from deficits in motor organization or output. The neuroimaging literature converges with this multicomponent interpretation and also highlights the role of top-down control circuits. Conclusion We underscore the importance of considering the interactions between top-down control, state regulation (e.g. arousal), and motor preparation when interpreting RT variability and conclude that decomposition of the RT signal provides superior interpretive power and suggests mechanisms convergent with those implicated using other cognitive paradigms. We conclude with specific recommendations for the field for next steps in the study of RT variability in neurodevelopmental disorders.

KW - ADHD

KW - ASD

KW - biomarker

KW - intraindividual

KW - Reaction time variability

KW - trans-diagnostic phenotype

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84901026495&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84901026495&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/jcpp.12217

DO - 10.1111/jcpp.12217

M3 - Article

C2 - 24628425

AN - SCOPUS:84901026495

VL - 55

SP - 685

EP - 710

JO - Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines

JF - Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines

SN - 0021-9630

IS - 6

ER -