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Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Mar 1;61(5):720-4. Epub 2006 Sep 1.

Ventral striatal hyporesponsiveness during reward anticipation in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.



Although abnormalities in reward processing have been proposed to underlie attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), this link has not been tested explicitly with neural probes.


This hypothesis was tested by using fMRI to compare neural activity within the striatum in individuals with ADHD and healthy controls during a reward-anticipation task that has been shown previously to produce reliable increases in ventral striatum activity in healthy adults and healthy adolescents. Eleven adolescents with ADHD (5 off medication and 6 medication-naïve) and 11 healthy controls (ages 12-17 y) were included. Groups were matched for age, gender, and intelligence quotient.


We found reduced ventral striatal activation in adolescents with ADHD during reward anticipation, relative to healthy controls. Moreover, ventral striatal activation was negatively correlated with parent-rated hyperactive/impulsive symptoms across the entire sample.


These findings provide neural evidence that symptoms of ADHD, and impulsivity or hyperactivity in particular, may involve diminished reward anticipation, in addition to commonly observed executive dysfunction.

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