Callous-unemotional traits moderate executive function in children with ASD and ADHD: A pilot event-related potential study

C Tye, R Bedford, P Asherson, K L Ashwood, B Azadi, P Bolton, G McLoughlin

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18 Citations (SciVal)


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are associated with varied executive function (EF) difficulties. Callous-unemotional (CU) traits, a proposed antecedent of adult psychopathy, are often associated with intact or enhanced EF. Here we test whether CU traits may therefore modulate EF in ASD and ADHD, in which EF is typically impaired. We collected CU traits and measured event-related potentials (ERPs) that index EF during a cued-continuous performance test (CPT-OX) in boys with ASD, ADHD, comorbid ASD+ADHD and typical controls. We examined attentional orienting at cues (Cue-P3), inhibitory processing at non-targets (NoGo-P3) and conflict monitoring between target and non-target trials (Go-N2 vs. NoGo-N2). In children with ASD, higher CU traits were associated with an enhanced increase in N2 amplitude in NoGo trials compared to Go trials, which suggests relatively superior conflict monitoring and a potential cognitive strength associated with CU traits. The results emphasise the importance of considering the effects of co-occurring traits in the assessment of heterogeneity of EF profiles in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-90
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Early online date13 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity/physiopathology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder/physiopathology
  • Child
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Executive Function/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects


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