By: Sophie van Rijn and Hanna Swaab
Published: February 12, 2015
Neuroimaging studies have shown that having an extra X chromosome is associated with abnormal structure and function of brain areas in the frontal lobe, which is crucially involved in executive functioning. However, there is little of knowledge of the type and severity of executive dysfunction, and the impact on emotional and behavioral problems. The present study aims to provide in this. In total, 40 children (23 boys with 47,XXY and 17 girls with 47,XXX) with an extra X chromosome and 100 non-clinical controls (47 boys and 53 girls) participated in the study. The participants were 9 to 18 years old. Processing speed and executive functioning were assessed using the Amsterdam Neuropsychological Testbattery (ANT) and the Dysexecutive Questionnaire (DEX). Problems in emotional and behavioral functioning were assessed with the Childhood Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Children with an extra X chromosome showed deficits in inhibition, mental flexibility, sustained attention and visual working memory. Parental report showed high levels of everyday manifestations of executive dysfunction. More severe inhibition difficulties were associated with higher levels of thought problems, aggression, and rule breaking behavior. Boys and girls with an extra X chromosome could not be differentiated based on severity of executive dysfunction, however girls had lower information processing speed than boys. These findings suggest that executive dysfunction may be part of the phenotype of children with an extra X chromosome, impacting the ability to function adequately in everyday life. Furthermore, children with impairments in inhibition may have more problems in regulating their thinking, emotions and behavior.