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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology


Bruce Pennington

Dr. Pennington will not be reviewing student applications for Fall 2021.

Areas of expertise/Research interests

  • atypical development
  • comorbidity

Current research and projects

  • Testing multiple deficit models of relations among developmental disorders

Professional biography

I am interested in understanding atypical development. What causes it? How do these causes change brain development? How do these changes in brain development alter the development of psychological functions? Which altered psychological functions underlie the patterns of abnormal behaviors that distinguish different developmental disorders? What does atypical development tell us about normal development?

Our clinical experience with all of these disorders has helped focus our research, and our research results have led to improvements in their diagnosis and treatment. My research and clinical work informs the courses I regularly teach on cognitive assessment, developmental psychopathology, and developmental neuropsychology.


  • PhD, Duke University
  • AB (BA), Harvard University

Selected Publications

  • Aman, C.J., Roberts, Jr., R.J., & Pennington, B.F. (1998). "A neuropsychological examination of the underlying deficit in ADHD: The frontal lobe vs. right parietal lobe theories" (PDF). Developmental Psychology, 34, 956-969.
  • Bennetto, L., Pennington, B.F., & Rogers, S.J. (1996). "Intact and impaired memory functions in autism" (PDF). Child Development, 67, 1816-1835.
  • Bidwell, C., Willcutt, E.G., DeFries, J.C., & Pennington, B.F. (2007). "Testing for neuropsychological endophenotypes in siblings disconcordant for ADHD" (PDF). Biological Psychiatry, 62(9), 991-998. PMCID: 17585884.
  • Cardon, L.R., DeFries, J.C., Fulker, D.W., Kimberling, W.J., Pennington, B.F., & Smith, S.D. (1994). "Quantitative trait locus for reading disability on chromosome 6" (PDF). Science, 265, 276-279.
  • Carpenter, M., Pennington, B.F., & Rogers, S.J. (2001). "Understanding of others' intentions in children with autism" (PDF). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31, 589-599.
  • Chhabildas, N., Pennington, B.F., & Willcutt, E.G. (2001). "A comparison of the neuropsychological profiles of the DSM-IV subtypes of ADHD" (PDF). Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 29, 529-540.
  • Doyle, A.E., Faraone, S.V., Seidman, L.J., Willcutt, E.W., Nigg, J.T., Waldman, I.D., Pennington, B.F., Peart, J., Biederman, J. (2005). "Are endophenotypes based on measures of executive functions useful for molecular genetic studies of ADHD?" (PDF). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46:7, 774-803.
  • Edgin, J., Mervis, C., Pennington, B.F. (2010). "Neuropsychological components of intellectual disability: The contributions of immediate, working, and associative memory" (PDF). Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 54, 406-417.
  • Edgin, J.O., & Pennington, B.F. (2005). "Spatial cognition in autism spectrum disorders: Superior, impaired, or just intact?" (PDF). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35(6), 729-745.
  • Gayan, J., Willcutt, E.G., Fisher, S.E., Francks, C., Cardon, L.R., Olson, R.K., Pennington, B.F., Smith, S.D., Monaco, A.P., & DeFries, J.C. (2005). "Bivariate linkage scan for reading disability and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder localizes pleiotropic loci" (PDF). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(10), 1045-1056.
  • Griffith, E.M., Pennington, B.F., Wehner, E.A., & Rogers, S.J. (1999). "Executive functions in young children with autism" (PDF). Child Development, 70, 817-832.
  • McGrath, L.M., Hutaff-Lee, C., Scott, A., Boada, R., Shriberg, L.D., & Pennington, B,F. (2007). "Children with comorbid speech sound disorder and specific language impairment are at increased risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder" (PDF). Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 151-163. PMCID: 17882543.
  • McGrath, M., Pennington, B.F., Willcutt, E.G., Shriberg, L.D., & Smith, S.D. (2007). "Gene x environment interactions in speech sound disorder predict language and preliteracy outcomes" (PDF). Development & Psychopathology Special Issue, 19, 1047-1072. PMCID: 17931434.
  • Ozonoff, S., Pennington, B.F., & Rogers, S.J. (1991). "Executive function deficits in high-functioning autistic individuals: Relationship to theory of mind" (PDF). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 32(7), 1081-1105.
  • Pennington, B.F. (2006). "From single to multiple-deficit models of developmental disorders" (PDF). Cognition, 10(2), 385-413
  • Pennington, B.F. (2009). "How neuropsychology informs our understanding and developmental disorders." Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry Annual Research Review, 50, 72-78.
  • Pennington, B.F., & Olson, R. (2005). "Genetics of dyslexsia" (PDF). In M. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook, pp. 453-472. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Pennington, B.F., & Ozonoff, S. (1996). "Executive functions and developmental psychopathology" (PDF). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 37, 51-87.
  • Pennington, B.F., & Smith, S.D. (1983). "Genetic influences on learning disabilities and speech and language disorders" (PDF). Child Development, 54, 369-387.
  • Pennington, B.F., Gilger, J., Pauls, D., Smith, S.A., Smith, S.D., & DeFries, J.C. (1991). "Evidence for major gene transmission of developmental dyslexia" (PDF). Journal of the American Medical Association, 266(11), 1527-1534.
  • Pennington, B.F., McGrath, L.M., Rosenberg, J., Barnard, H., Smith, S.D., Willcutt, E.G., Friend, A., DeFries, J.C., & Olson, R.K. (2009). "Gene x environment interactions in reading disability and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder" (PDF). Developmental Psychology, 45(1), 77-89.
  • Pennington, B.F., Willcutt, E.G., & Rhee, S. (2005). "Analyzing comorbidity (PDF)." In R.V. Kail (Ed.), Advances in child development and behavior (pp. 263-304) (Vol. 33). Oxford: Elsevier.
  • Oliver, A., Johnson, M.H., Karmiloff-Smith, A., & Pennington, B. (2000). "Deviations in the emergence of representations: A neuroconstructivist framework for analyzing developmental disorders (PDF)." Developmental Science, 3, 1-40.
  • Raitano Lee, N., Pennington, B.F., & Keenan, J.M. (2010). "Verbal short-term memory deficits in Down syndrome: Phonological, semantic, or both?" (PDF). Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 2, 9-25.
  • Roberts, R.J., & Pennington, B.F. (1996). "An interactive framework for examining prefrontal cognitive processes" (PDF). Developmental Neuropsychology, 12, 105-126.
  • Rogers, S.J., & Pennington, B.F. (1991). "A theoretical approach to the deficits in infantile autism" (PDF). Development and Psychopathology, 3, 137-162.
  • Rogers, S.J., Bennetto, L., McEvoy, R., & Pennington, B.F. (1996). "Imitation and pantomime in high functioning adolescents with autism" (PDF). Child Development, 67, 2060-2073.
  • Rutherford, M.D., Pennington, B.F., & Rogers, S.J. (2006). "The perception of animacy in young children with autism" (PDF). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(8), 983-992.
  • Shanahan, M., Willcutt, E.G., & Pennington, B.F. (2008). "Do motivational incentives reduce the inhibition deficit in ADHD?" (PDF). Developmental Neuropsychology, 33(2), 137-159. PMCID: 18443974.
  • Smith, S.D., Pennington, B.F., Boada, R., & Shriberg, L.D., (2005). "Linkage of speech sound disorder to reading disability loci" (PDF). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(10), 1057-1066.
  • Van Orden, G.C., Pennington, B.F., & Stone, G.O. (2001). "What do double dissociations prove?" (PDF). Cognitive Science, 25, 111-172.
  • Welsh, M.C., & Pennington, B.F. (1988). "Assessing frontal lobe functioning in children: Views from developmental psychology" (PDF). Developmental Neuropsychology, 4, 199-230.
  • Willcutt, E.G., Doyle, A.E., Nigg, J.T., Faraone, S.V., & Pennington, B.F. (2005). "Validity of the executive function theory of ADHD: A meta-analytic review" (PDF). Biological Psychiatry.
  • Willcutt, E.G., Pennington, B.F., Boada, R., Ogline, J.S., Tunick, R.A., Chhabildas, N.A., & Olson, R.K. (2001). "A comparison of the cognitive deficits in reading disability and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder" (PDF). Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110, 157-172.
  • Willcutt, E.G., Pennington, B.F., Smith, S.D., Cardon, L.R., Gayan, J., Knopik, V.S., Olson, R.K., & DeFries, J.C. (2002). "Quantitative trait locus for reading disability on chromosome 6p is pleiotropic for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder" (PDF). American Journal of Medical Genetics: Neuropsychiatric Genetic, 114, 260-268.
  • Yerys, B.E., Hepburn, S.L., Pennington, B.F., & Rogers, S.J. (2007). "Executive function in young children with autism: Evidence consistent with a secondary deficit" (PDF). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(6), 1068-1079. PMCID: 17171455.