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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2003 Nov;27(7):593-604.

The dual pathway model of AD/HD: an elaboration of neuro-developmental characteristics.

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Department of Psychology, Centre for the Study of Psychological Development, University of Southampton, Southampton S017 1BJ, UK.


The currently dominant neuro-cognitive model of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) presents the condition as executive dysfunction (EDF) underpinned by disturbances in the fronto-dorsal striatal circuit and associated dopaminergic branches (e.g. meso-cortical). In contrast, motivationally-based accounts focus on altered reward processes and implicate fronto-ventral striatal reward circuits and those meso-limbic branches that terminate in the ventral striatum especially the nucleus accumbens. One such account, delay aversion (DEL), presents AD/HD as a motivational style-characterised by attempts to escape or avoid delay-arising from fundamental disturbances in these reward centres. While traditionally regarded as competing, EDF and DEL models have recently been presented as complimentary accounts of two psycho-patho-physiological subtypes of AD/HD with different developmental pathways, underpinned by different cortico-striatal circuits and modulated by different branches of the dopamine system. In the current paper we describe the development of this model in more detail. We elaborate on the neuro-circuitry possibly underpinning these two pathways and explore their developmental significance within a neuro-ecological framework.

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