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We investigated key event-related brain potential markers (ERPs) derived from a flanked continuous performance task (CPT) and whether these would show phenotypic associations with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) in a population-based sample. We further explored whether there was preliminary evidence that such ERPs could also index genetic risk for ADHD (depending on finding phenotypic associations). Sixty-seven male-only twin pairs (N = 134; aged 12-15) from a subsample of the Twins' Early Development Study, concordant and discordant for ADHD symptoms, performed the flanked CPT (or CPT-OX) while electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded. ERPs were obtained for cue (P3, CNV or contingency negative variation), go (P3, N2) and nogo trials (P3, N2). We found no phenotypic associations between CPT-derived ERPs and ADHD-the sizes of the estimated phenotypic correlations were nonsignificant and very small (r's = -.11 to .04). Twin-model fitting analyses using structural equation modelling provided preliminary evidence that some of the ERPs were heritable (with the most robust effect for go-P3 latency), but there was limited evidence of any genetic associations between ERPs and ADHD, although with the caveat that our sample was small and hence had limited power. Overall, unlike in previous research, there was no evidence of phenotypic (nor preliminary evidence for genetic) associations between ADHD and CPT-derived ERPs in this study. Hence, it may be currently premature for genetic analyses of ADHD to be guided by CPT-derived ERP parameters (unlike alternative cognitive-neurophysiological approaches which may be more promising). Further research with better-powered, population-based, genetically-informative and cross-disorder samples are required, which could be facilitated by emerging mobile EEG technologies.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Adolescent, Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, Brain, Case-Control Studies, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Female, Humans, Male, Neuropsychological Tests, Psychomotor Performance