Executive Functions and Emotion Regulation in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Borderline Intellectual Disability

J Clin Med. 2020 Apr 1;9(4):986. doi: 10.3390/jcm9040986.


The main objective of this study is to investigate the multiple relations and to determine the differences between executive functions (EFs), emotion regulation, and behavioral and emotional problems in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), borderline intellectual disability (ID), and typical development (TD). The sample included 85 children aged 6 to 11 years, 42 with typical development (TD), 27 with ADHD, and 16 with borderline ID. The results emphasized a positive correlation between adaptive emotion regulation strategies and EFs, and no significant relations between the maladaptive emotion regulation strategies and EFs. In addition, the executive function of planning correlated negatively with anxiety, ADHD symptoms, and conduct problems. The performance of both clinical groups regarding EFs was significantly lower than that of the TD group, and they differed significantly from each other only on visual attention. The presence of oppositional-defiant and conduct problems was higher in both clinical groups than in the TD group, and more anxiety symptoms were reported in children with ADHD. This study supports the idea that emotion regulation, Efs, and clinical symptoms are interconnected. It also profiles the deficits in cognitive functioning and emotion regulation in two clinical groups, thus helping future intervention programs.

Keywords: ADHD; behavioral/emotional problems; borderline intellectual disability; emotion regulation; executive function.