Highlighting Faculty Member Steve Lee
Date published: 10/20/2015
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related conduct problems (e.g., aggression) are highly prevalent, treatment resistant, and they uniquely predict poor adolescent and adult outcomes. My research focuses on identifying factors that predict the onset, maintenance, and long-term prognosis of children with these challenges.
Despite its public health significance, relatively little is known about the progression of children with ADHD into adolescence and early adulthood. For example, some children with ADHD develop relatively well whereas many others exhibit persistent impairment. Our goal is to identify family factors (e.g., parenting behavior), social experiences (e.g., peer relationships), and neuropsychological dimensions (e.g., working memory) that predict these diverse outcomes.
For the past 7 years, with funding from NIH and the UCLA Academic Senate, we have followed a large cohort of families of children with and without ADHD. Beginning when children were 6 to 9 years of age, and assessed every 2-3 years until 11 to 14 years of age, this ongoing prospective longitudinal study has improved our understanding of risk factors, protective factors, and their underlying mechanisms. Key domains of functioning include internalizing (e.g., anxiety, depression) and externalizing psychopathology, parent-child interaction, peer relationships, academic achievement, and neuropsychological functioning. Overall, we prioritize the use of longitudinal designs to disentangle simple correlates from risk factors and potential causal risk factors.
Our lab employs diverse research methods to prosecute our central questions of interest. We bring families to the laboratory where they are carefully assessed using multiple methods (e.g., observations of family interactions, structured diagnostic interviews) and data are gathered from multiple informants (e.g., parents, teachers, youth). Studies from our lab also include secondary analyses of large public use data sets as well as more intensive, carefully controlled experimental manipulations in the lab. We contend that understanding the origins and consequences of ADHD and related problems requires an array of research designs and strategies.
I am a native of Southern California, having grown up in Orange County. I was soon ready for a new environment and headed to the University of Chicago where I graduated with a degree in psychology. I gained valuable experience in multiple research labs spanning topics such as parent-infant interaction, teen pregnancy, and urban poverty. I eventually returned to California where I earned my Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UC Berkeley, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in psychiatric genetics at the University of Chicago. I joined the Department of Psychology in 2006.