'CALM and collected: A dimensional approach to developmental disorders of attention, learning and memory'
- Law building LT3
- Life and Environmental Sciences, Research
Part of the School Seminar Series
Speaker: Professor Susan Gathercole, University of Cambridge
Host: Professor Kim Shapiro
Abstract: There are few invariant cognitive characteristics within the diagnostic categories of ADHD, dyslexia, Specific Language Impairment or dyscalculia, but the overlap of symptoms and co-morbidity across the different diagnoses are high. Findings are reported from a study designed to identify the common and potentially co-occurring cognitive dimensions that underpin this pattern of low sensitivity and specificity of conventional diagnoses. A new research clinic has been established in Cambridge for children that span attention, learning (to include language and academic attainment) and/ or memory, referred by practitioners in education and health. At the clinic, children complete a wide range of cognitive assessments, and parent rate their behaviour. The children are also invited back for MRI scanning. Despite high variability in routes by which the children are referred and the reasons cited for their referral, a simple dimensional structure characterises the profiles of the first 230 children attending the clinic. General learning abilities are highly associated with a verbal dimension, and a highly specific association has been established between nonverbal abilities, rated behavioural problems, and maths achievement. This approach illustrates the value of adopting a broad-based dimensional approach not only for understanding the fundamental constraints on children’s learning, but on the guiding the selection of appropriate interventions that are based on symptom profile rather than diagnosis.