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Neuroimage. 2008 Feb 1;39(3):966-72. Epub 2007 Oct 4.

Reward anticipation and outcomes in adult males with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Campus Charité Mitte, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Schumannstr. 20/21, 10117 Berlin, Germany.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been suggested to involve deficits in reward processing. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare the neural responses to reward anticipation and outcomes in 10 adults with ADHD and 10 controls as they played a monetary incentive delay task. Adults with ADHD were unmedicated, and groups were matched for age, verbal IQ and smoking habits. Adults with ADHD showed decreased activation in the ventral striatum during the anticipation of gain, but increased activation of the orbitofrontal cortex in response to gain outcomes. Ventral striatal activation in adults with ADHD during gain anticipation was negatively correlated with self-rated symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. These findings suggest that male adults with ADHD show neural signs of abnormal reward processing. Future studies will have to investigate whether these dysfunctional patterns might be normalized by treatment.

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