Spinelli S, Joel S, Nelson TE, Vasa RA, Pekar JJ, Mostofsky SH
J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2011 Jul;50(7):705-715.e3
OBJECTIVE: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with difficulty inhibiting impulsive, hyperactive, and off-task behavior. However, no studies have examined whether a distinct pattern of brain activity precedes inhibitory errors in typically developing (TD) children and children with ADHD. In healthy adults, increased activity in the default mode network, a set of brain regions more active during resting or internally focused states, predicts commission errors, suggesting that momentary lapses of attention are related to inhibitory failures.
METHOD: Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging and a go/no-go paradigm were used to explore brain activity preceding errors in 13 children with ADHD and 17 TD controls.
RESULTS: Comparing pre-error with pre-correct trials, TD children showed activation in the precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex and parahippocampal and middle frontal gyri. In contrast, children with ADHD demonstrated activation in the cerebellum, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and basal ganglia. Between-group comparison for the pre-error versus pre-correct contrast showed that children with ADHD showed greater activity in the cerebellum, DLPFC, and ventrolateral PFC compared with TD controls. Results of region-of-interest analysis confirmed that the precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex are more active in TD children compared with children with ADHD.
CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary data suggest that brain activation patterns immediately preceding errors differ between children with ADHD and TD children. In TD children, momentary lapses of attention precede errors, whereas pre-error activity in children with ADHD may be mediated by different circuits, such as those involved in response selection and control.