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

  • Andreas KonradEmail author
  • Thomas F. Dielentheis
  • Dschamil El Masri
  • Paulo R. Dellani
  • Peter Stoeter
  • Goran Vucurevic
  • Georg Winterer
Original Paper


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.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder Diffusion tensor imaging Fractional anisotropy Mean diffusivity Attention 



This study was supported by the MAIFOR grant of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany. We thank the patients and volunteers who participated in our study.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Konrad
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas F. Dielentheis
    • 2
  • Dschamil El Masri
    • 1
  • Paulo R. Dellani
    • 3
  • Peter Stoeter
    • 4
  • Goran Vucurevic
    • 4
  • Georg Winterer
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity Medical CentreMainzGermany
  2. 2.The Rhineland Regional Council (LVR), Clinic LangenfeldLangenfeldGermany
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyUniversity Medical CentreMainzGermany
  4. 4.Institute of NeuroradiologyUniversity Medical CentreMainzGermany
  5. 5.Institute for GeneticsUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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