Polygenic risk for ADHD and ASD and their relation with cognitive measures in school children

Sofía Aguilar-Lacasaña, Natàlia Vilor-Tejedor, Philip R. Jansen, M. nica López-Vicente, Mariona Bustamante, Miguel Burgaleta, Jordi Sunyer, Silvia Alemany*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BackgroundAttention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are child-onset neurodevelopmental disorders frequently accompanied by cognitive difficulties. In the current study, we aim to examine the genetic overlap between ADHD and ASD and cognitive measures of working memory (WM) and attention performance among schoolchildren using a polygenic risk approach.MethodsA total of 1667 children from a population-based cohort aged 7-11 years with data available on genetics and cognition were included in the analyses. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) were calculated for ADHD and ASD using results from the largest GWAS to date (N = 55 374 and N = 46 351, respectively). The cognitive outcomes included verbal and numerical WM and the standard error of hit reaction time (HRTSE) as a measure of attention performance. These outcomes were repeatedly assessed over 1-year period using computerized version of the Attention Network Test and n-back task. Associations were estimated using linear mixed-effects models.ResultsHigher polygenic risk for ADHD was associated with lower WM performance at baseline time but not over time. These findings remained significant after adjusting by multiple testing and excluding individuals with an ADHD diagnosis but were limited to boys. PRS for ASD was only nominally associated with an increased improvement on verbal WM over time, although this association did not survive multiple testing correction. No associations were observed for HRTSE.ConclusionsCommon genetic variants related to ADHD may contribute to worse WM performance among schoolchildren from the general population but not to the subsequent cognitive-developmental trajectory assessed over 1-year period.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Early online date2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020

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