Sluggish cognitive tempo: longitudinal stability and validity

Atten Defic Hyperact Disord. 2019 Dec;11(4):463-471. doi: 10.1007/s12402-019-00287-7. Epub 2019 Feb 20.


Emerging research has identified sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) as a construct separate from ADHD predominately inattentive presentation. The present study explores the longitudinal stability of SCT over a period of 7 years, specifically the independent effects of SCT on behavioural and academic outcomes concurrently over a 3-year period. A sample of 639 twins, aged 6-12 years, participating in the Western Reserve Reading and Math Project (WRRMP) were assessed at seven annual home visits. The WRRMP sample is an unselected sample of twins representative of the general population of typically developing school-age children. The current investigation will focus on parent and teacher reports which assess attention deficit hyperactive/impulsive disorder (ADHD) and standardized achievement measures which assess academic outcomes. Over periods longer than 1 or 2 years, SCT does not display good longitudinal stability (r < .60). SCT also does not have consistent significant independent effects on academic outcomes once the effects of ADHD were controlled for. Over a 7-year period, SCT does not demonstrate consistent longitudinal stability. SCT significantly predicts social problems, internalizing behaviours, and anxious/depressive behaviours after the effects of ADHD are controlled for. SCT has no significant independent effects on cognitive or educational outcomes after the effects of inattentive ADHD are controlled for.

Keywords: ADHD; Sluggish cognitive tempo; Stability; Validity.

Publication types

  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Success
  • Age Factors
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Diseases in Twins / diagnosis
  • Diseases in Twins / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Ohio
  • Reproducibility of Results