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Neurosci Lett. 2001 May 18;304(1-2):117-9.

Attention-deficit disorder in adults with or without hyperactivity: where is the difference? A study in humans using short echo (1)H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Albert Ludwigs University, Freiburg, Germany.


The DSM-IV distinguishes three subtypes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: The predominantly inattentive subtype (ADD), the hyperactive-impulsive subtype (ADHD) and the combined subtype. We used short echo time (1)H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (TE=30 ms, TR=3000 ms) for absolute quantification of neurometabolites using the LC model algorithm to investigate a possible metabolic neuropathology in adult patients with ADD and ADHD and compared their spectra with healthy controls (n=5 in each group). Spectra were acquired in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the left striatum. There was a significant group difference in N-acetylaspartate (NAA) concentration in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex distinguishing patients with the ADHD from patients with pure ADD and healthy controls. The absolute NAA concentration was significantly reduced only in the ADHD group. Since NAA-depletion reflects a state of neuronal dysfunction, this finding indicates evidence of subtle left prefrontal neuropathology in ADHD in adults.

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