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World J Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Sep;19(6):450-460. doi: 10.1080/15622975.2017.1287952. Epub 2017 Mar 1.

Anxiety modulates the relation between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder severity and working memory-related brain activity.

Author information

1
a Department of Psychiatry , University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen , Groningen , The Netherlands.
2
b Cognition and Behaviour , Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, Donders Institute for Brain , Nijmegen , The Netherlands.
3
c Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain, University of Oxford , Oxford , UK.
4
d Department of Clinical Neuropsychology , VU University Amsterdam , Amsterdam , The Netherlands.
5
e Departments of Psychiatry and of Neuroscience and Physiology , SUNY Upstate Medical University , Syracuse , NY , USA.
6
f Departments of Human Genetics and Psychiatry, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour , Radboud University Medical Centre , Nijmegen , The Netherlands.
7
g Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour , Radboud University Medical Centre , Nijmegen , The Netherlands.
8
h Karakter Child and Adolescent Psychiatry University Centre , Nijmegen , The Netherlands.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have heightened levels of anxiety, which has been associated with worse performance on working memory tasks. Knowledge of the neural pathways underlying the combined presence of ADHD and anxiety may aid in a better understanding of their co-occurrence. Therefore, we investigated how anxiety modulates the effect of ADHD severity on neural activity during a visuospatial working memory (VSWM) task.

METHODS:

Neuroimaging data were available for 371 adolescents and young adults participating in the multicentre cohort study NeuroIMAGE (average age 17.1 years). We analysed the effects of ADHD severity, anxiety severity and their interaction on-task accuracy, and on neural activity associated with working memory (VSWM trials minus baseline), and memory load (high memory load trials minus low load trials).

RESULTS:

Anxiety significantly modulated the relation between ADHD severity and neural activity in the cerebellum for the working memory contrast, and bilaterally in the striatum and thalamus for the memory load contrast.

CONCLUSIONS:

We found that ADHD with co-occurring anxiety is associated with lowered neural activity during a VSWM task in regions important for information gating. This fits well with previous theorising on ADHD with co-occurring anxiety, and illustrates the neurobiological heterogeneity of ADHD.

KEYWORDS:

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; anxiety; comorbidity; magnetic resonance imaging; working memory

PMID:
28635543
PMCID:
PMC5581282
[Available on 2019-09-01]
DOI:
10.1080/15622975.2017.1287952
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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