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Expert Rev Neurother. 2007 Oct;7(10):1337-56.

Functional MRI in ADHD: a systematic literature review.

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MRC Social Genetic Developmental Psychiatry Centre (P080), Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK.


Functional MRI (fMRI) research in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a fast developing and very complex field. Every study appears to show differences in patterns of brain activation between cases and controls, but the interpretation of such differences is not as straightforward as it may seem. We present here a systematic review of the fMRI literature in ADHD; areas covered include executive functions, reward processing, the effects of methylphenidate, comorbidity and spontaneous brain activity in the resting state. To facilitate the interpretation of research in this area, we discuss important conceptual issues, such as the need to take group differences in performance into account or to consider the role of errors. We present common themes that emerge from these studies and we discuss possible reasons for the many discrepancies that were observed. Finally, based on existing literature and current advancements in fMRI research, we discuss the role that fMRI could play in the future as a diagnostic tool or in treatment outcome predictions, and we make predictions for the future directions of research in this field.

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