Altered Functional Brain Connectivity in a Non-Clinical Sample of Young Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

by Cocchi et al


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity that often persist in adulthood. There is a growing consensus that ADHD is associated with abnormal function of diffuse brain networks, but such alterations remain poorly characterized. Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging, we characterized multivariate (complex network measures), bivariate (network-based statistic), and univariate (regional homogeneity) properties of brain networks in a non-clinical, drug-naive sample of high-functioning young men and women with ADHD (nine males, seven females) and a group of matched healthy controls. Data from our sample allowed the isolation of intrinsic functional connectivity alterations specific to ADHD diagnosis and
symptoms that are not related to developmental delays, general cognitive dysfunction, or history of medication use. Multivariate results suggested
that frontal, temporal, and occipital cortices were abnormally connected locally as well as with the rest of the brain in individuals with ADHD.
Results from the network-based statistic support and extend multivariate results by isolating two brain networks comprising regions between which
inter-regional connectivity was significantly altered in the ADHD group; namely, a frontal amygdala-occipital network and a frontal temporal-occipital network. Brain behavior correlations further highlighted the key role of altered orbitofrontal-temporal and frontal-amygdala connectivity for symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. All univariate properties were similar between groups. Taken together, results from this study show that the diagnosis and the two main symptom dimensions of ADHD are related to altered intrinsic connectivity in orbitofrontal-temporal-occipital and fronto-amygdala-occipital networks.
Accordingly, our findings highlight the importance of extending the conceptualization of ADHD beyond segregated fronto-striatal alterations.