Sluggish cognitive tempo: longitudinal stability and validity

  • Alexander VuEmail author
  • Lee Thompson
  • Erik Willcutt
  • Stephen Petrill
Short Communication


Emerging research has identified sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) as a construct separate from ADHD predominately inattentive presentation. The present study explores the longitudinal stability of SCT over a period of 7 years, specifically the independent effects of SCT on behavioural and academic outcomes concurrently over a 3-year period. A sample of 639 twins, aged 6–12 years, participating in the Western Reserve Reading and Math Project (WRRMP) were assessed at seven annual home visits. The WRRMP sample is an unselected sample of twins representative of the general population of typically developing school-age children. The current investigation will focus on parent and teacher reports which assess attention deficit hyperactive/impulsive disorder (ADHD) and standardized achievement measures which assess academic outcomes. Over periods longer than 1 or 2 years, SCT does not display good longitudinal stability (r < .60). SCT also does not have consistent significant independent effects on academic outcomes once the effects of ADHD were controlled for. Over a 7-year period, SCT does not demonstrate consistent longitudinal stability. SCT significantly predicts social problems, internalizing behaviours, and anxious/depressive behaviours after the effects of ADHD are controlled for. SCT has no significant independent effects on cognitive or educational outcomes after the effects of inattentive ADHD are controlled for.


Sluggish cognitive tempo ADHD Stability Validity 



The Fund was provided by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant Nos. HD038075, HD059215, HD068728, HD075460) and National Centre for Advancing Translational Sciences (Grant Nos. 8UL1TR000090-05).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to report. This article has not been previously published in any form and has not been submitted or is being submitted to any other journal or publisher. This study was fully approved by the Case Western Reserve Institutional Review board and participants in this study gave informed consent, the forms for which are available upon request.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.ClevelandUSA
  3. 3.HoustonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychological SciencesCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  5. 5.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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