What Accounts for the Factors of Psychopathology? An Investigation of the Neurocognitive Correlates of Internalising, Externalising, and the p-Factor
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Neurocognitive deficits have been consistently associated with a wide range of psy-chopathology and are proposed to not only be a consequence of the development of psychopathology but also directly involved in its aetiology. However, there is no clear understanding of what neurocog-nitive processes are particularly important to mental health. In this paper, we explored the association between neurocognitive abilities and the factors derived from structural models of psychopathol-ogy. Four hundred participants from a representative community sample completed measures of symptomology and substance use, as well as 8 neurocognitive tasks. We found a correlated-factors model, with internalising and externalising as the higher-order factors, and a single-factor model with only the p-factor, to be good fits for the data. Tasks that measured the speed of processing were significantly associated with internalising, externalising, and the p-factor, and accounted for significant amounts of unique variance in the factors after accounting for the common variance of the other tasks. Tasks that measured working memory, shifting, and inhibition were not significantly associated with psychopathology factors. Our findings suggest that neurocognitive abilities may not be differentially associated with psychopathology factors, but that speed of processing is a common correlate of the factors. We emphasise the importance of examining neurocognitive abilities and psychopathology on the individual level.
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