The effects of anxiety and depression on frontal lobe functioning were tested in two groups of 9–11-year-old boys. Participants were screened for handedness, health, intelligence and classified as anxious-depressed or non-anxious, non-depressed based on scores from the A-State scale of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children and the Child Depression Inventory. Previous research in our laboratory has indicated that boys high in anxious-depression may have neuropsychological deficits [e.g., Emerson, C. S., Harrison, D. W., & Everhart, D. E. (1999). Investigation of receptive affective prosodic ability in school-aged boys with and without depression. Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurology, 12(2), 102–109; Emerson, C. S., Harrison, D. W., Everhart, D. E., & Williamson, J. B. (2001). Grip strength asymmetry in depressed boys. Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, and Behavioral Neurology, 14(2), 130–134].
In order to assess the effects of anxious-depression on cerebral functioning performance on the Trail Making Test (Forms A and B) and on the Concept Formation subtest of the Woodcock Johnson was compared between groups. As predicted, anxious-depressed boys demonstrated deficits in sequencing, alternation, and problem-solving tasks as evidenced by longer completion times and significantly more errors on the tests. These results provide supportive evidence for deficits in frontal lobe functioning.