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Concept: ADHD predominantly inattentive


Hyperactivity is one of the core symptoms in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, it remains unclear in which way the motor system itself and its development are affected by the disorder. Movement-related potentials (MRP) can separate different stages of movement execution, from the programming of a movement to motor post-processing and memory traces. Pre-movement MRP are absent or positive during early childhood and display a developmental increase of negativity.

Concepts: Attention, Educational psychology, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Hyperactivity, ADHD predominantly inattentive, Stimulant, Dopamine, Methylphenidate


BACKGROUND: Methylphenidate (MPH), a psycho-stimulant, is the most widely administered drug for the pharmacological management of patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study attempts to determine whether sustainable improvements occur in neurocognitive function among ADHD patients following 12-month treatment with MPH, at drug-free status. Whether age groups, gender or ADHD subtypes differ in neurocognitive performance during MPH treatment is also examined. METHODS: Study participants consisted of 103 ADHD patients (mean age: 9.1 +/- 1.9 years old) who were drug naive or drug free for at least 6 months. The patients were prescribed oral short-acting MPH at each dose range of 0.3–1.0 mg/kg daily. During 12 months of the study, the patients underwent the test of variables of attention (TOVA) at the baseline, month 6 and month12. Patients were instructed to not intake MPH for one week before the second and the third TOVA. RESULTS: Seventy five patients completed the study. Results of this study indicated that although commission errors and response sensitivity (d') significantly improved during MPH treatment for 12 months, omission errors, response time, response time variability and ADHD score did not. While younger ADHD patients (<9y/o) performed better in response time, response time variability, d' and ADHD score than older ones (>=9y/o), the latter more significantly improved in response time than the former during 12 months of treatment. Additionally, boys improved more than girls in omission error and d'. Moreover, although ADHD subtypes significantly differed in ADHD score during the treatment, MPH treatment and ADHD subtypes did not interact with each other for all TOVA indices. CONCLUSIONS: ADHD patients significantly improved in impulsivity and perceptual sensitivity, determined as TOVA, during MPH treatment for 12 months. Age and gender, yet not ADHD subtypes, appear to influence the MPH treatment effects in some indices of TOVA. A future study containing a comparison group is suggested to confirm whether the neurocognitive improvements are attributed to long-term effects of MPH or natural maturation of patients.

Concepts: Attention, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Hyperactivity, ADHD predominantly inattentive, Dopamine, Methylphenidate, Amphetamine


In previous studies, we found a strong reduction in contrast perception and retinal contrast gain in patients with major depression, which normalized after remission of depression. We also identified a possible role of the dopaminergic system in this effect, because visual contrast perception depends on dopaminergic neurotransmission. Dopamine is also known to play an important role in the pathogenesis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Therefore, in order to explore the specificity of retinal contrast gain as a marker of depression in comparison with other psychiatric diseases, we recorded the pattern electroretinogram (PERG) in patients with ADHD. Twenty patients diagnosed with ADHD and 20 matched healthy subjects were studied. Visual pattern electroretinograms were recorded from both eyes. The contrast gain of the patients with attention deficit disorder (ADD) did not differ from the control group, nor did the contrast gain of any ADHD subgroup (predominantly inattentive or combined patients). In the healthy subjects, a significant correlation between depression score and contrast gain was found. As the contrast gain in an earlier study clearly separated the patients with depression from the controls, we assume that retinal contrast gain might be a specific marker in depression.

Concepts: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Hyperactivity, ADHD predominantly inattentive, Major depressive disorder, Dopamine, Methylphenidate, Amphetamine, Dopaminergic


Diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) relies on subjective methods which can lead to diagnostic uncertainty and delay. This trial evaluated the impact of providing a computerised test of attention and activity (QbTest) report on the speed and accuracy of diagnostic decision-making in children with suspected ADHD.

Concepts: Attention, Educational psychology, Dopamine receptor, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Hyperactivity, ADHD predominantly inattentive, Dopamine, Methylphenidate


OBJECTIVES: Abnormalities in reward processing have been found in adolescents and adults with ADHD using the ‘Monetary Incentive Delay’ (MID) task. However, ADHD groups in previous studies were heterogeneous regarding ADHD subtype, gender and, in part, drug treatment status. This study sought to compare neural activations in the ventral striatum (VS) and prefrontal regions during reward processing in homogenous ADHD subtype groups and healthy adults, using the MID task. METHODS: In total, 24 drug-naïve, right-handed male adults with ADHD (12 subjects with combined type (ADHD-ct) and 12 subjects with predominantly inattentive (ADHD-it) type ADHD), and twelve healthy right-handed male control subjects were included. RESULTS: Compared to ADHD-ct and healthy subjects, ADHD-it subjects showed a bilateral ventral striatal deficit during reward anticipation. In contrast, ADHD-ct subjects showed orbitofrontal hyporesponsiveness to reward feedback when compared with ADHD-it and healthy subjects. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first fMRI study that delineates dysfunctional and subtype-divergent neural and behavioural reward processing in adults with ADHD.

Concepts: Attention, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Hyperactivity, ADHD predominantly inattentive, Dopamine, Methylphenidate


The aim of the present study was to investigate the ability of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder-combined subtype (ADHD-C) and predominantly inattentive subtype (ADHD-PI) to direct their attention and to exert cognitive control in a forced attention dichotic listening (DL) task. Twenty-nine, medication-naive participants with ADHD-C, 42 with ADHD-PI, and 40 matched healthy controls (HC) between 9 and 16 years were assessed. In the DL task, two different auditory stimuli (syllables) are presented simultaneously, one in each ear. The participants are asked to report the syllable they hear on each trial with no instruction on focus of attention or to explicitly focus attention and to report either the right- or left-ear syllable. The DL procedure is presumed to reflect different cognitive processes: perception (nonforced condition/NF), attention (forced-right condition/FR), and cognitive control (forced-left condition/FL). As expected, all three groups had normal perception and attention. The children and adolescents with ADHD-PI showed a significant right-ear advantage also during the FL condition, while the children and adolescents in the ADHD-C group showed a no-ear advantage and the HC showed a significant left-ear advantage in the FL condition. This suggests that the ADHD subtypes differ in degree of cognitive control impairment. Our results may have implications for further conceptualization, diagnostics, and treatment of ADHD subtypes.

Concepts: Psychology, Cognitive psychology, Cognition, Perception, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD predominantly inattentive, Concept, Dichotic listening


Sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) refers to an impairment of attention in hypoactive-appearing individuals that first presents in childhood. At this time, it exists only as a research entity that has yet to debut in official diagnostic taxonomies. However, it seems likely that a constellation of characteristic features of SCT may form the criteria for a newly defined childhood disorder in the foreseeable future, provided limitations in the extant findings can be addressed by future research. Most clinicians who assess and treat cases of attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have likely seen and treated someone who falls within the parameters for SCT. This article outlines the history of SCT and reviews the current understanding of the disorder, how it is distinguishable from and similar to other attention disorders, and what future directions research and treatment may take. Based on this review and their clinical experience, the authors conjecture that SCT is probably distinct from ADHD rather than being an ADHD subtype, although there is notable overlap with the ADHD predominantly inattentive and combined presentations.

Concepts: Attention, Educational psychology, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD predominantly inattentive, Methylphenidate, Sluggish cognitive tempo, Attention disorders


BACKGROUND: The neurobiological underpinnings of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are inconclusive. Activation abnormalities across brain regions in ADHD compared with healthy controls highlighted in task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies are heterogeneous. To identify a consistent pattern of neural dysfunction in ADHD, a meta-analysis of fMRI studies using Go/no-go, Stop and N-back tasks was undertaken. Method Several databases were searched using the key words: ‘ADHD and fMRI’ and ‘ADHD and fMRI task’. In all, 20 studies met inclusion criteria comprising 334 patients with ADHD and 372 healthy controls and were split into N-back, Stop task and Go/no-go case-control groups. Using Signed Differential Mapping each batch was meta-analysed individually and meta-regression analyses were used to examine the effects of exposure to methylphenidate (MPH), length of MPH wash-out period, ADHD subtype, age and intelligence quotient (IQ) differences upon neural dysfunction in ADHD. RESULTS: Across all tasks less activity in frontal lobe regions compared with controls was detected. Less exposure to treatment and lengthier wash-out times resulted in less left medial frontal cortex activation in N-back and Go/no-go studies. Higher percentage of combined-type ADHD resulted in less superior and inferior frontal gyrus activation. Different IQ scores between groups were linked to reduced right caudate activity in ADHD. CONCLUSIONS: Consistent frontal deficits imply homogeneous cognitive strategies involved in ADHD behavioural control. Our findings suggest a link between fMRI results and the potentially normalizing effect of treatment and signify a need for segregated examination and contrast of differences in sample characteristics in future studies.

Concepts: Attention, Magnetic resonance imaging, Educational psychology, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD predominantly inattentive, Frontal lobe, Dopamine, Methylphenidate


OBJECTIVES: Although sleep disorders have been reported to affect more than half of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the association between sleep and ADHD is poorly understood. The aims of our study were to investigate sleep-related variables in adults with ADHD and to assess if any differences exist between ADHD of the predominantly inattentive (ADHD-I) and combined (ADHD-C) subtypes. METHODS: We used the Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS), the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and the fatigue severity scale (FSS) to collect data on daytime sleepiness, sleep quality, and fatigue in 126 subjects (45 ADHD-I and 81 ADHD-C subjects). RESULTS: Approximately 85% of subjects reported excessive daytime sleepiness or poor sleep quality. The most common sleep concerns were initial insomnia, interrupted sleep, and feeling too hot. When examining ADHD subtype differences, ADHD-I subtypes reported poorer sleep quality and more fatigue than ADHD-C subtypes. Partial correlation analyses revealed that interrelationships between sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue differ between ADHD subtypes; in ADHD-I subtypes fatigue was associated with sleep quality, while in the ADHD-C subtypes fatigue was associated with both sleep quality and daytime sleepiness. There also appears to be a subtype×gender interaction that affects the perception of fatigue, as subjective fatigue was markedly higher in ADHD-I women than in ADHD-C women. CONCLUSION: Altogether our data indicate that the interplay of variables associated with daytime function and sleep varies between ADHD subtypes. This finding may have considerable relevance in the management and pathophysiologic understanding of ADHD, and thus lead to tailored treatments for ADHD subtypes.

Concepts: Sleep, Sleep deprivation, Sleep disorder, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD predominantly inattentive, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Excessive daytime sleepiness, Sleep disorders


Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) offer the benefit of a hypothesis-free approach to measuring the quantitative effect of genetic variants on affection status. Generally the findings of GWAS relying on ADHD status have been non-significant, but the one study using quantitative measures of symptoms found SLC9A9 and SLC6A1 were associated with inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Accordingly, we performed a GWAS using quantitative measures of each ADHD subtype measured with the Strengths and Weaknesses of ADHD and Normal Behaviour (SWAN) scale in two community-based samples. This scale captures the full range of attention and kinetic behavior; from high levels of attention and appropriate activity to the inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity associated with ADHD within two community-based samples. Our discovery sample comprised 1,851 participants (mean age = 22.8 years [4.8]; 50.6% female), while our replication sample comprised 155 participants (mean age = 26.3 years [3.1]; 68.4% females). Age, sex, age × sex, and age2 were included as covariates and the results from each sample were combined using meta-analysis, then analyzed with a gene-based test to estimate the combined effect of markers within genes. We compare our results with markers that have previously been found to have a strong association with ADHD symptoms. Neither the GWAS nor subsequent meta-analyses yielded genome-wide significant results; the strongest effect was observed at rs2110267 (4.62 × 10-7) for symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity. The strongest effect in the gene-based test was for GPR139 on symptoms of inattention (6.40 × 10-5). Replication of this study with larger samples will add to our understanding of the genetic etiology of ADHD.

Concepts: Psychology, Genetics, Measurement, Educational psychology, Genome-wide association study, Test method, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD predominantly inattentive