The role of neuropsychological assessment in adults with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders

Rev Neurol (Paris). 2021 Apr;177(4):341-348. doi: 10.1016/j.neurol.2021.01.006. Epub 2021 Feb 19.


Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity. While ADHD was initially recognized as a childhood syndrome, scientific evidence accumulated to indicate that a significant proportion of ADHD children continue to experience symptoms of ADHD in adulthood. Moreover, the question of ADHD diagnosis can arise in adult patients who were not diagnosed in childhood. Currently, the diagnosis of ADHD in adulthood is based on the revised criteria described for children. However, their application for adults may be difficult for many reasons including compensation and comorbid disorders. To date, no clinical, neuropsychological, biological or imaging marker is available for the diagnosis of ADHD. Considering that ADHD is based on a neuropsychological model, in this article we will examine the usefulness of neuropsychological testing in the diagnosis in adults. We will first present diagnostic criteria of ADHD and the limits of their application in adults. We will then detail the neuropsychological data available in adult ADHD and the French and international clinical recommendations for neuropsychological assessment. Finally, we will explore the predictive value of neuropsychological scores in the diagnosis of ADHD and discuss key methodological points and perspectives for clinical research.

Keywords: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; Cognitive tests; Neuropsychological assessment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests