High intelligence and the risk of ADHD and other psychopathology

Nanda Rommelse, Kevin Antshel, Stijn Smeets, Corina Greven, Lianne Hoogeveen, Stephen V. Faraone, Catharina A. Hartman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: High intelligence may be associated with positive (adaptive, desired) outcomes, but may also come with disadvantages. Aims: To contribute empirically to the debate concerning whether a trade-off in IQ scores exists in relation to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related problems, suggesting that high intelligence - like low intelligence - increases the risk of ADHD. Method: Curves of the relation between IQ score and ADHD problems were fitted to questionnaire data (parent, teacher, self-report) in a population-based study of 2221 children and adolescents aged 10-12 years. Externalising and internalising problems were included for comparison purposes. Results: Higher IQ score was most strongly related to fewer attention problems, with more rater discrepancy in the high v. average IQ range. Attention problems - but only minimally hyperactivity/impulsivity problems - predicted functional impairment at school, also in the higher IQ range. Conclusions: Attention problems in highly intelligent children are exceptional and affect school performance; they are therefore a reason for clinical concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-364
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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