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Executive functions and conduct problems in adolescents: A new conceptualization

16 April 2004


This paper reviews the existing literature relevant to the role executive functions may play in adolescents with conduct problems. An integrative approach was taken by conducting an extensive review of three bodies of literature: (1) conduct problems, (2) executive functions, and (3) Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It is concluded that the current literature is inconclusive to support the hypothesis that adolescents with conduct problems have deficits in executive functions after controlling for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. However, the state of the current literature may purely be a product of the ineffective measures (e.g., neuropsychological test selection, features of neuropsychological instrument, and the exclusive use of neuropsychological testing) used to assess executive functions in this population. If executive function deficits are found to play a role in the creation and maintenance of conduct problems in adolescents, existing treatments may need to be augmented to target these deficits. Recommendations for future research and suggestions for treatment modification are discussed.


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