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Neuropsychologia. 2010 Oct;48(12):3532-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.08.002. Epub 2010 Aug 10.

Atypical EEG beta asymmetry in adults with ADHD.

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Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.



Abnormal brain laterality (ABL) is well established in ADHD. However, its clinical specificity and association to cognitive and clinical symptoms is not yet understood. Previous studies indicate increased right hemisphere (RH) contribution in both ADHD and reading impaired samples. The current study investigates whether this ABL characteristic occurs in adults with ADHD absent comorbid language impairment.


EEG beta asymmetry was compared in 35 adult ADHD subjects and 104 controls during rest and active cognition. Group differences in beta asymmetry were then further evaluated for association to linguistic and attentional abilities, as well as association to beta asymmetry measures across different brain regions.


Adults with ADHD showed pronounced rightward beta asymmetry (p=.00001) in inferior parietal regions (P8-P7) during a continuous performance task (CPT) that could not be attributed to linguistic ability. Among ADHD subjects only, greater rightward beta asymmetry at this measure was correlated with better CPT performance. Furthermore, this measure showed a lack of normal association (i.e., observed in controls) to left-biased processing in temporal-parietal (TP8-TP7) brain regions important for higher order language functions.


Adult ADHD involves abnormally increased right-biased contribution to CPT processing that could not be attributed to poor language ability. This appears to also involve abnormal recruitment of LH linguistic processing regions and represents an alternative, albeit less effective, CPT processing strategy. These findings suggest different pathophysiologic mechanisms likely underlie RH biased processing in ADHD and reading impaired samples.

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