Jennifer Amato is a 2018 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee

Martha B. Strauss, PhD, Committee Chair
Theodore Austin, PsyD, Committee Member
Jonathan Lichtenstein, PsyD, Committee Member

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This dissertation was designed to inform the existing literature gap regarding variability in Executive Dysfunction on neuropsychological assessment tasks in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The two primary objectives of the study included: (a) evaluation of the relationship between number of adverse childhood events (ACEs) and performance on neuropsychological tasks of executive functions (EF; as measured by neuropsychological test results on Color–Word Interference, Verbal Fluency, Trail Making Test, and Semantic Clustering) for children with ADHD; and (b) evaluation of the relationship between number of ACEs and behavioral impairment on parent ratings of EFs (as measured by the Inhibit, Task Completion, Shift, and Planning/Organization scales on the BRIEF) for children with ADHD. Archival data derived from neuropsychological and behavioral assessment were used to evaluate 107 children diagnosed with ADHD. Eight separate linear regressions for the two families of dependent variables (i.e., four cognitive variables and four behavioral variables) were conducted. Number of ACEs significantly predicted neurocognitive shifting performance, as well as parent-reported behavioral problems with inhibition, set shifting, and self-monitoring. Findings support the hypothesis that children with ADHD who have experienced higher levels of adversity can be expected to show greater deficits on some neuropsychological measures of executive functioning and to be rated by their parents as demonstrating a higher level of behavioral dysregulation when compared to same-age peers with ADHD and lower levels of adversity. Results suggest that the experience of early adversity is a potential developmental pathway to ADHD symptomology.


Jennifer Amato

ORCID ID 0000-0003-3777-8687