Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory


Date of this Version



Published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 18 (2009), pp. 627–643; doi:10.1016/j.chc.2009.02.003 Copyright © 2009 Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


Although DSM-defined DBDs and ADHD manifest during early childhood in meaning¬ful ways, the emphasis of extending the DBD and ADHD nosology, which is based on studies of older youth, to younger children potentially limits the utility of these symptoms. Given that it is clear that DBDs and ADHD often emerge during early childhood and that early intervention is most efficacious, developing a more refined understanding of the clinical phenomenology of behavior disorders in early childhood is a critical next step. We contend that an approach that emphasizes the developmental specification of symptoms has the potential to address several long-standing issues in the literature, including enhancing the specificity, sensitivity, and stability of DBD and ADHD symptoms. Moreover, progress toward developmentally specified symptoms may inform our understanding of which type of treatment works best for whom. Answers to these questions are critical if we are to ultimately intervene to improve the lives of young children affected with DBDs and ADHD.

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