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Psychiatry Res. 2007 Feb 28;154(2):171-80. Epub 2007 Feb 8.

Mapping brain structure in attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder: a voxel-based MRI study of regional grey and white matter volume.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Hong Kong.


The neuroanatomical basis of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is postulated to involve brain circuitry responsible for attention and executive function. Relatively new automated methods of MRI analysis allow rapid examination of each volume element (voxel) of whole brain, therefore we planned a comprehensive quantitative examination of brain anatomy in children with ADHD using voxel-based methods. We aimed to quantify whole brain, global tissue class and regional grey and white matter volume differences in 28 male children with ADHD and 31 closely matched controls. Since ADHD is often complicated by comorbid oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD), we also conducted post-hoc analyses of subgroups of children with ADHD with and without these comorbidities. Significant regional deficits in ADHD were observed within a predominantly right-sided frontal-pallidal-parietal grey matter network and bilateral white matter tracts. Post-hoc comparisons suggested that comorbid ODD or CD did not greatly alter the extent of regional pathology in ADHD. The exceptions being cerebellar and striatal volume deficits which were significantly greater in children with ADHD plus comorbidities, but not those with ADHD alone, compared to controls. Overall, restricted structural brain abnormalities caused by ADHD were localized to brain systems known to be necessary for attention and executive function.

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