A1 Journal article (refereed)
Heterogeneity of executive functions among preschool children with psychiatric symptoms (2020)

Teivaanmäki, S., Huhdanpää, H., Kiuru, N., Aronen, E. T., Närhi, V., & Klenberg, L. (2020). Heterogeneity of executive functions among preschool children with psychiatric symptoms. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 29(9), 1237-1249. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-019-01437-y

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Teivaanmäki, Sini; Huhdanpää, Hanna; Kiuru, Noona; Aronen, Eeva T.; Närhi, Vesa; Klenberg, Liisa

Journal or series: European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

ISSN: 1018-8827

eISSN: 1435-165X

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 29

Issue number: 9

Pages range: 1237-1249

Publisher: Springer

Publication country: Germany

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-019-01437-y

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/71767


The aim of the present study was to investigate associations between internalizing and externalizing symptoms and deficits in executive functions (EF) as well as to examine the overall heterogeneity of EFs in a sample of preschool children attending a psychiatric clinic (n = 171). First, based on cut-off points signifying clinical levels of impairment on the parent-completed Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), children were assigned into groups of internalizing, externalizing, combined or mild symptoms and compared to a reference group (n = 667) with regard to day care teacher ratings of EFs on the Attention and Executive Function Rating Inventory-Preschool (ATTEX-P). Second, latent profile analysis (LPA) was employed to identify distinct subgroups of children representing different EF profiles with unique strengths and weaknesses in EFs. The first set of analyses indicated that all symptom groups had more difficulties in EFs than the reference group did, and the internalizing group had less inhibition-related problems than the other symptom groups did. Using LPA, five EF profiles were identified: average, weak average, attentional problems, inhibitory problems, and overall problems. The EF profiles were significantly associated with gender, maternal education level, and psychiatric symptom type. Overall, the findings suggest that the comparison of means of internalizing and externalizing groups mainly captures the fairly obvious differences in inhibition-related domains among young psychiatric outpatient children, whereas the person-oriented approach, based on individual differences, identifies heterogeneity related to attentional functions, planning, and initiating one’s action. The variability in EF difficulties suggests that a comprehensive evaluation of a child’s EF profile is important regardless of the type of psychiatric symptoms the child presents with.

Keywords: executive functions (psychology); preschool children (age group); psychopathology; child psychiatry

Free keywords: executive functions; preschool; internalizing symptoms; externalizing symptoms; psychopathology

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 13:17