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Diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Its Behavioral, Neurological, and Genetic Roots

Mueller, Kathryn L.; Tomblin, J. Bruce

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0b013e318261ffdd
Exploring the Comorbidity of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Language, Speech, and Reading Disorders

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common developmental disorder often associated with other developmental disorders including speech, language, and reading disorders. Here, we review the principal features of ADHD and current diagnostic standards for the disorder. We outline the ADHD subtypes, which are based upon the dimensions of inattention and hyperactivity. These serve as the phenotype for ADHD. Current nomenclature implies a deficit in the cognitive construct of attention, and this has taken researchers on an extended inquiry into several potential endophenotypes underlying ADHD, in particular executive function and its subcomponents. We review this literature and then delve into the neurobiology of ADHD. This research suggests that the corticostriatal system is a strong candidate system in the etiology of ADHD, in part because of the dopaminergic system, which is known to play a role in the disorder. We present this system as an important contributor to the comorbidity of ADHD with other developmental disorders, especially language disorder.

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Corresponding Author: Kathryn L. Mueller, PhD, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242 (

This research was supported by Grants DC00496 and DC02746 from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. It is based on data in the first author's doctoral dissertation under the direction of the second author.

The authors have no relevant financial or nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins