ISBN# 978-1-60623-352-8
What Causes ADHD?

Publication Date: 2006
Joel T. Nigg, Ph.D.

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Paperback, 422 pp

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About the Author

Joel T. Nigg, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and an active scientist in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University. His research on the etiology of and mechanisms involved in ADHD has been funded by the National Institutes of Health continuously since 1997. Dr. Nigg is best known for his work in helping to characterize the neuropsychological features of ADHD and its subtypes; he also studies temperamental and personality characteristics related to ADHD. He has published over 50 scientific articles on ADHD and related topics, and has presented his work at numerous national and international scientific meetings in the field of children's mental health. Dr. Nigg also serves as a reviewer for grants for the National Institute of Mental Health, and is on the editorial boards of several major scientific journals.


Synthesizing a wealth of recent neuropsychological research, this groundbreaking book focuses on the multiple pathways by which attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) develops. Joel T. Nigg marshals the best available knowledge on what is actually going on in the symptomatic child's brain and why, tracing the intersecting causal influences of genetic, neural, and environmental factors. In the process, the book confronts such enduring controversies as the validity of ADHD as a clinical construct. Specific suggestions are provided for studies that might further refine the conceptualization of the disorder, with significant potential benefits for treatment and prevention.


"Nigg's book is a tour de force. Conceptually rich and clinically relevant, it does not shrink from current controversies regarding ADHD, but instead synthesizes massive amounts of relevant, up-to-the-minute research into a masterful whole. This book is essential reading for scientists, clinicians, and students; it is one of those few volumes that can and should cross over between the classroom and the laboratory. Nigg is a wizard at finding and making comprehensible the complex sets of issues that render ADHD a timely and provocative springboard for discussion of scientific models, causal factors, and implications for treatment. There is nothing quite like it in the field."
-Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley


  1. Conceptual Context
    1. ADHD's Controversies
    2. Defining "Disorder"
  2. How Does ADHD Work?
    1. Neural Systems
    2. Attention and Arousal
    3. Executive Functioning or Cognitive Control
    4. Motivation
    5. Motor Control and Timing
  3. Where Does ADHD Come From?
    1. Multiple Pathways
    2. Genetic Effects
    3. Uncommon Experiential Risk Factors
    4. Common Experiential Risk Factors
  4. Integration
    1. Multiple Pathways Reconsidered
    2. Conclusion