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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2016 Aug;134(2):161-71. doi: 10.1111/acps.12573. Epub 2016 May 4.

Resting state default mode network connectivity in children and adolescents with ADHD after acute tryptophan depletion.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.
JARA Translational Brain Medicine, Aachen & Jülich, Germany.
Cognitive Neuroscience, Institute for Neuroscience and Medicine (INM3), Research Centre Jülich, Jülich, Germany.
Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.
Department of Neurology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
Centre & Discipline of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy; School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences & School of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia.
Specialised Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Department of Health in Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia.



Alterations of the default mode network (DMN) have been described in patients with neuropsychiatric disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) is known to modulate DMN activity. This study aimed to explore the role of 5-HT on the DMN and its functional connectivity (FC) in young patients with ADHD.


Young male patients with ADHD (n = 12) and healthy controls (n = 10) (both aged 12-17 years) were subjected to acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) and subsequently diminished brain 5-HT synthesis. Three hours after challenge intake (ATD or a balanced control condition, BAL), resting state fMRI scans were obtained.


In patients, ATD led to attenuated FC of the right superior premotor cortex (BA 6) with the DMN, comparable to the extent found in controls after BAL administration. ATD lowered FC of the left somatosensory cortex (BA 3) with the DMN, independently of the factor group, but with stronger effects in controls.


Data reveal a serotonergic modulation of FC between BA 6 and 3, known to be relevant for motor planning and sensory perception, and the DMN, thereby possibly pointing toward ATD acting beneficially on neural planning of motor activity in patients with ADHD.


Serotonin; adolescence; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; fMRI; premotor cortex; somatosensory cortex

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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