Behavioral Neuroscience of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Its Treatment

Volume 9 of the series Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences pp 17-47


ADHD: Volumetry, Motor, and Oculomotor Functions

  • E. Mark MahoneAffiliated withKennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Email author 

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The use of quantitative neuroimaging (volumetry), motor, and oculomotor assessments for studying children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has grown dramatically in the past 20 years. Most evidence to date suggests that anomalous basal ganglia development plays an important role in early manifestation of ADHD; however, widespread cerebellar and cortical delays are also observed and are associated with the behavioral (cognitive, motor, oculomotor) phenotype in children with ADHD. These motor and “executive” control systems appear to develop in parallel, such that both systems display a similar protracted developmental trajectory, with periods of rapid growth in elementary years and continued maturation into young adulthood. Development of each system is dependent on the functional integrity and maturation of related brain regions, suggesting a shared neural circuitry that includes frontostriatal systems and the cerebellum (i.e., those identified as anomalous in studies of volumetry in ADHD). Motor and oculomotor paradigms provide unique opportunities to examine executive control processes that exist at the interface between movement and cognition in children with ADHD, also linking cognition and neurological development. The observed pattern of volumetric differences, together with the known parallel development of motor and executive control systems, appears to predict motor and oculomotor anomalies in ADHD, which are highly relevant, yet commonly overlooked in clinical settings.


Attention Childhood Executive function MRI Saccade Sensorimotor Volume