Date: 31 Aug 2011

White matter abnormalities and their impact on attentional performance in adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

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Inattention is the most important behavioral feature of adult patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Neuroimaging studies in ADHD have demonstrated abnormalities primarily in the frontostriatal circuitry and were mostly conducted in children. We investigated white matter (WM) integrity in adult ADHD patients and the correlation of WM microstructure and neuropsychological parameters in 37 (21 men) never-medicated adult ADHD patients and 34 age- and gender-matched healthy controls. All subjects underwent clinical interviews, rating scales, and neuropsychological tests of attentional performance. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was acquired, and 12 WM regions-of-interest (ROIs) within the attentional network were chosen. Group differences of mean fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) values were calculated for each ROI, and patients’ DTI measures were then correlated with measures of attentional performance. FA values in ADHD patients were significantly reduced in the left inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF), while MD values were significantly increased in ADHD patients in the frontal portion of the left frontooccipital fasciculus (IFO). In ADHD patients, MD values were negatively correlated with attentional performance in the left ILF. Our findings provide further support for disturbed frontostriatal structural connectivity and also point to an involvement of the left temporal white matter with an impact on attentional performance.