Roles of Response Inhibition and Gene–Environment Interplay in Pathways to Adolescents' Externalizing Problems

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This study used two waves of data to investigate pathways through which adolescents' response inhibition related to later externalizing problems. A polygenic risk score indexed genetic risk for poor response inhibition. Adolescents' performance on a response inhibition task mediated the relation between adolescents' polygenic risk scores and mother's inconsistent parenting (i.e., evocative rGE), even after controlling for mothers' genetic risk (i.e., passive rGE). Mothers' inconsistent parenting subsequently prospectively predicted adolescents' externalizing problems. Adolescents' response inhibition also prospectively predicted later externalizing behaviors. These findings were subgroup-specific, with greater risk for non-Hispanic Caucasian boys with substance-disordered parents. Results suggest that poor response inhibition may increase risk for adolescents' externalizing problems both directly and by evoking certain environmental conditions.

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