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Int J Neurosci. 2005 Sep;115(9):1273-305.

Biophysical modeling of tonic cortical electrical activity in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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Brain Dynamics Centre & Dept. of Psychological Medicine, Westmead Hospital & University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


Psychophysiological theories characterize Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in terms of cortical hypoarousal and a lack of inhibition of irrelevant sensory input, drawing on evidence of abnormal electroencephalographic (EEG) delta-theta activity. To investigate the mechanisms underlying this disorder a biophysical model of the cortex was used to fit and replicate the EEGs from 54 ADHD adolescents and their control subjects. The EEG abnormalities in ADHD were accounted for by the model's neurophysiological parameters as follows: (i) dendritic response times were increased, (ii) intrathalamic activity involving the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) was increased, consistent with enhanced delta-theta activity, and (iii) intracortical activity was increased, consistent with slow wave (<1 Hz) abnormalities. The longer dendritic response time is consistent with the increase in the activity of inhibitory cells types, particularly in the TRN, and therefore reduced arousal. The increase in intracortical activity may also reflect an increase in background activity or cortical noise within neocortical circuits. In terms of neurochemistry, these findings may be accounted for by disturbances in the cholinergic and/or noradrenergic systems. To the knowledge of the authors, this is the first study to use a detailed biophysical model of the brain to elucidate the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying tonic abnormalities in ADHD.

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