Attentional Functions and Stress, Implications for ADHD

  • Petr Bob
  • Jana Konicarova
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Psychology book series (BRIEFSPSYCHOL)


Attentional and executive functions are related to cognitive processes represented by large scale coordinated neural activities that enable behavioral functions, and their dysfunctions are related psychopathological symptoms that manifest in ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other neuropsychiatric disorders (Teicher et al. 2003; Savitz et al. 2006; Bob 2011). For more detailed understanding how stress may influence ADHD seems to be very important that various functional changes in ADHD and PTSD are likely similar and it is possible to expect that various processes described in stress related disorder will be important in ADHD etiology (Ford et al. 2000; Adler et al. 2004; Daud and Rydelius 2009; Martinez et al. 2016).


Attention ADHD Stress Executive functions Consciousness 


  1. Acheson, A., Conover, J. C., Fandl, J. P., DeChiara, T. M., Russell, M., Thadani, A., Slinto, S. P., Yancopoulos, G. D., & Lindsay, R. M. (1995). A BDNF autocrine loop in adult sensory neurons prevents cell death. Nature, 374, 450–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adler, L. A., Kunz, M., Chua, H. C., Rotrosen, J., & Resnick, S. G. (2004). Attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder in adult patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Is ADHD a vulnerability factor? Journal of Attention Disorders, 8, 11–16. Scholar
  3. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-V) (5th ed.). Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bao, A. M., Meynen, G., & Swaab, D. F. (2008). The stress system in depression and neurodegeneration: Focus on the human hypothalamus. Brain Research Reviews, 57, 531–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bath, K. G., & Lee, F. S. (2006). Variant BDNF (Val66Met) impact on brain structure and function. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 6, 79–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bechara, A., Tranel, D., Damasio, H., Adolphs, R., Rockland, C., & Damasio, A. R. (1995). Double dissociation of conditioning and declarative knowledge relative to the amygdala and hippocampus in humans. Science, 269, 1115–1118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Besedovsky, H., Del Rey, A., Sorkin, E., & Dinarello, C. A. (1986). Immunoregulatory feedback between interleukin-1 and glucocorticoid hormones. Science, 233, 652–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Binder, D. K., & Scharfman, H. E. (2004). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Growth Factors, 22, 123–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bob, P. (2007). Hypnotic abreaction releases chaotic patterns of electrodermal activity during dissociation. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 55, 435–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bob, P. (2008). Pain, dissociation and subliminal self-representations. Consciousness and Cognition, 17, 355–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bob, P. (2011). Brain, mind and consciousness: Advances in neuroscience research. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bob, P. (2015). The brain and conscious unity: Freud’s Omega. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bob, P., Raboch, J., Maes, M., Susta, M., Pavlat, J., Jasova, D., Vevera, J., Uhrova, J., Benakova, H., & Zima, T. (2010). Depression, traumatic stress and interleukin-6. Journal of Affective Disorders, 120, 231–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bramham, C. R., & Messaoudi, E. (2005). BDNF function in adult synaptic plasticity: The synaptic consolidation hypothesis. Progress in Neurobiology, 76, 99–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bremner, J. D. (1999). Does stress damage the brain. Biological Psychiatry, 45, 797–805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bremner, J. D. (2006). Stress and brain atrophy. CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets, 5, 503–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bremner, J. D., Randall, P., Scott, T. M., Bronen, R. A., Seibyl, J. P., Southwick, S. M., Delaney, R. C., & Charney, D. S. (1995). MRI-based measurement of hippocampal volume in combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 973–981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Bremner, J. D., Elzinga, B., Schmahl, C., & Vermetten, E. (2007). Structural and functional plasticity of the human brain in posttraumatic stress disorder. Progress in Brain Research, 167, 171–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cahill, L. (1997). The neurobiology of emotionally influenced memory. Implications for understanding traumatic memory. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 821, 238–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cahill, L., & McGaugh, J. L. (1998). Mechanisms of emotional arousal and lasting declarative memory. Trends in Neurosciences, 21, 294–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Choi, J., Jeong, B., Rohan, M. L., Polcari, A. M., & Teicher, M. H. (2009). Preliminary evidence for white matter tract abnormalities in young adults exposed to parental verbal abuse. Biological Psychiatry, 65, 227–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Chrousos, G. P., Epstein, F., Flier, J., Reichlin, S., & Pavlou, S. (1995). The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and immune-mediated inflammation. New England Journal of Medicine, 332, 1351–1362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Cole, D. A., Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Girgus, J., & Paul, G. (2006). Stress exposure and stress generation in child and adolescent depression: A latent trait-state-error approach to longitudinal analyses. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 115, 40–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Coleman-Mensches, K., & McGaugh, J. L. (1995). Differential involvement of the right and left amygdalae in expression of memory for aversively motivated training. Brain Research, 670, 75–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Daud, A., & Rydelius, P. A. (2009). Comorbidity/overlapping between ADHD and PTSD in relation to IQ among children of traumatized/non-traumatized parents. Journal of Attention Disorders, 13, 188–196. Scholar
  26. Debiec, J., & LeDoux, J. E. (2006). Noradrenergic signaling in the amygdala contributes to the reconsolidation of fear memory: Treatment implications for PTSD. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1071, 521–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Debiec, J., LeDoux, J. E., & Nader, K. (2002). Cellular and systems reconsolidation in the hippocampus. Neuron, 36, 527–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dedovic, K., Duchesne, A., Andrews, A., Engert, V., & Pruessner, J. C. (2009). The brain and the stress axis: The neural correlates of cortisol regulation in response to stress. NeuroImage, 47, 864–871. Scholar
  29. Dranovsky, A., & Hen, R. (2006). Hippocampal neurogenesis: Regulation by stress and antidepressants. Biological Psychiatry, 59, 1136–1143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Duman, R. S., & Monteggia, L. M. (2006). A neurothrophic model for stress-related mood disorders. Biological Psychiatry, 59, 1116–1127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Elenkov, I. J., & Chrousos, G. P. (2002). Stress hormones, proinflammatory and antiinflammatory cytokines, and autoimmunity. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 966, 290–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Elenkov, I. J., Wilder, R. L., Chrousos, G. P., & Vizi, E. S. (2000). The sympathetic nerve – An integrative interface between two supersystems: The brain and the immune system. Pharmacological Reviews, 52, 595–638.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Ellenberger, H. F. (1970). The discovery of the unconscious: The history and evolution of dynamic psychiatry. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
  34. Endo, T., Sugiyama, T., & Someya, T. (2006). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and dissociative disorder among abused children. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 60, 434–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ford, J. D., Racusin, R., Ellis, C. G., Daviss, W. B., Reiser, J., Fleischer, A., & Thomas, J. (2000). Child maltreatment, other trauma exposure, and posttraumatic symptomatology among children with oppositional defiant and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Child Maltreatment, 5, 205–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Frankel, F. H. (1996). Dissociation: The clinical realities. American Journal of Psychiatry, 153(Suppl), 64–70.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Gabbard, G. O. (2000). A neurobiologically informed perspective on psychotherapy. British Journal of Psychiatry, 177, 117–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gabbard, G. O. (2007). Psychotherapy in psychiatry. International Review of Psychiatry, 19, 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Harkness, K. L., Bruce, A. E., & Lumley, M. N. (2006). The role of childhood abuse and neglect in the sensitization to stressful life events in adolescent depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 115, 730–741.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hasler, G., Van der Veen, J. W., Grillon, C., Drevets, W. C., & Shen, J. (2010). Effect of acute psychological stress on prefrontal GABA concentration determined by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. American Journal of Psychiatry, 167, 1226–1231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Henry, J. P. (1993). Psychological and physiological responses to stress: The right hemisphere and the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, an inquiry into problems of human bonding. Integrative Physiology and Behavioral Sciences, 28, 369–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Henry, J. P. (1997). Psychological and physiological responses to stress: The right hemisphere and the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, an inquiry into problems of human bonding. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 161(Suppl), 10–25.Google Scholar
  43. Horowitz, M., Wilner, M., & Alvarez, W. (1979). Impact of event scale: A measure of subjective stress. Psychosomatic Medicine, 41, 209–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Isenberg, N., Silbersweig, D., Engelien, A., Emmerich, S., Malavade, K., Beattie, B., & Leon, A. C. (1999). Linguistic threat activates the human amygdala. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 96, 10456–10459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Jelicic, M., & Merckecbach, H. (2004). Traumatic stress, brain changes, and memory deficits: A critical note. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 192, 548–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Joels, M., Karst, H., Krugers, H. J., & Lucassen, P. J. (2007). Chronic stress: Implications for neuronal morphology, function and neurogenesis. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 28, 72–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Johnson, K. A., Robertson, I. H., Kelly, S. P., Silk, T. J., Barry, E., Daibhis, A., Watchorn, A., Keavey, M., Fitzgerald, M., Gallagher, L., Gill, M., & Bellgrove, M. A. (2007). Dissociation in performance of children with ADHD and high-functioning autism on a task of sustained attention. Neuropsychologia, 45, 2234–2245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kandel, E. R. (1998). A new intellectual framework for psychiatry. American Journal of Psychiatry, 155, 457–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kandel, E. R. (1999). Biology and the future of psychoanalysis: A new intellectual framework for psychiatry revisited. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 505–524.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Karl, A., Schaefer, M., Malta, L. S., Dörfel, D., Rohleder, N., & Werner, A. (2006). A meta-analysis of structural brain abnormalities in PTSD. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 30, 1004–1031.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kenardy, J., Smith, A., Spence, S. H., Lilley, P. R., Newcombe, P., Dob, R., et al. (2007). Dissociation in children’s trauma narratives: An exploratory investigation. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 21, 456–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kihlstrom, J. F. (2005). Dissociative disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 227–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Kitayama, N., Vaccarino, V., Kutner, M., Weiss, P., & Bremner, J. D. (2005). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurement of hippocampal volume in posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 88, 79–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Kovacs, K. J., & Elenkov, I. J. (1995). Differential dependence of ACTH secretion induced by various cytokines on the integrity of the paraventricular nucleus. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 7, 15–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. La Bar, K. S., Gatenby, J. C., Gore, J. C., Le Doux, J. E., & Phelps, E. A. (1998). Human amygdala activation during conditioned fear acquisition and extinction: A mixed-trial fMRI study. Neuron, 20, 937–945.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. LeDoux, J. E. (1994). Emotion, memory and the brain. Scientific American, 270, 50–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Li, L., Wu, M., Liao, Y., Ouyang, L., Du, M., Lei, D., Chen, L., Yao, L., Huang, X., & Gong, Q. (2014). Grey matter reduction associated with posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic stress. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 43, 163–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Maroun, M., & Richter-Levin, G. (2003). Exposure to acute stress blocks the induction of long-term potentiation of the amygdala-prefrontal cortex pathway in vivo. Journal of Neuroscience, 23, 4406–4409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Martinez, L., Prada, E., Satler, C., Tavares, M. C., & Tomaz, C. (2016). Executive dysfunctions: The role in attention deficit hyperactivity and post-traumatic stress neuropsychiatric disorders. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1230. Scholar
  60. McGaugh, J. L. (2000). Memory- a century of consolidation. Science, 287, 248–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Mizuno, K., & Giese, K. P. (2005). Hippocampus-dependent memory formation: Do memory type-specific mechanisms exist? Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, 98, 191–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Monroe, S. M., Slavich, G. M., Torres, L. D., & Gotlib, I. H. (2007). Major life events and major chronic difficulties are differentially associated with history of major depressive episodes. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116, 116–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Morris, J. S., Ohman, A., & Dolan, R. J. (1999). A subcortical pathway to the right amygdala mediating “unseen” fear. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 96, 1680–1685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Mossner, R., Daniel, S., Albert, D., Heils, A., Okladnova, O., Schmitt, A., & Lesch, K. P. (2000). Serotonin transporter function is modulated by brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) but not nerve growth factor (NGF). Neurochemistry International, 36, 197–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Nadel, L. (1994). Hippocampus, space, and relations. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 17, 490–491.Google Scholar
  66. Nadel, L., & Jacobs, W. J. (1998). Traumatic memory is special. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 7, 154–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Narita, M., Aoki, K., Takagi, M., Yajima, Y., & Suzuki, T. (2003). Implication of brain derived neurotrophic factor in the release of dopamine and dopamine-related behaviors induced by amphetamine. Neuroscience, 119, 767–775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Payne, J. D., Jackson, E. D., Ryan, L., Hoscheidt, S., Jacobs, J. W., & Nadel, L. (2006). The impact of stress on neutral and emotional aspects of episodic memory. Memory, 14, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Phillips, R. G., & LeDoux, J. E. (1992). Differential contribution of amygdala and hippocampus to cued and contextual fear conditioning. Behavioural Neuroscience, 106, 274–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Putnam, F. W. (1995). Traumatic stress and pathological dissociation. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 771, 708–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Putnam, F. (1997). Dissociation in children and adolescents. A developmental perspective. London, New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  72. Rattiner, L. M., Davis, M., & Ressler, K. J. (2005). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor in amygdala-dependent learning. The Neuroscientist, 11, 323–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Savitz, J., Solms, M., & Ramesar, R. (2006). The molecular genetics of cognition: Dopamine, COMT and BDNF. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 5, 311–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Schore, A. N. (2001). The effects of early relational trauma on right brain development, affect regulation and infant mental health. Infant Mental Health Journal, 22, 201–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Schore, A. N. (2002). Dysregulation of the right brain: A fundamental mechanism of traumatic attachment and the psychopathogenesis of posttraumatic stress disorder. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36, 9–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Schulte-Herbruggen, O., Nassenstein, C., Lommatzsch, M., Quarcoo, D., Renz, H., & Braun, A. (2005). Tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6 regulate secretion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in human monocytes. Journal of Neuroimmunology, 160, 204–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Schwabe, L., Nader, K., & Pruessner, J. C. (2014). Reconsolidation of human memory: Brain mechanisms and clinical relevance. Biological Psychiatry, 76, 274–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Soule, J., Messaoudi, E., & Bramham, C. R. (2006). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and control of synaptic consolidation in the adult brain. Biochemical Society Transactions, 34, 600–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Spence, S., Shapiro, D., & Zaidel, E. (1996). The role of the right hemisphere in the physiological and cognitive components of emotional processing. Psychophysiology, 33, 112–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Spiegel, D. (1991). Neurophysiological correlates of hypnosis and dissociation. Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 3, 440–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Spiegel, D. (1997). Trauma, dissociation, and memory. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 821, 225–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Sugar, J., & Ford, J. D. (2012). Peritraumatic reactions and posttraumatic stress disorder in psychiatrically impaired youth. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 25, 41–49. Scholar
  83. Sullivan, R. M., & Gratton, A. (1999a). Lateralized effects of medial prefrontal cortex lesions on neuroendocrine and autonomic stress responses in rats. Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 2834–2840.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Sullivan, R. M., & Gratton, A. (1999b). Medial prefrontal cortex, laterality, and stress. Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 2834–2840.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Sullivan, R. M., & Gratton, A. (2002). Prefrontal cortical regulation of hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal function in the rat and implications for psychopathology: Side matters. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 27, 99–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Teicher, M. H., Andersen, S. L., Polcari, A., Anderson, C. M., Navalta, C. P., & Kim, D. M. (2003). The neurobiological consequences of early stress and childhood maltreatment. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 27, 33–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Teicher, M. H., Tomoda, A., & Andersen, S. L. (2006). Neurobiological consequences of early stress and childhood maltreatment: Are results from human and animal studies comparable? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1071, 313–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Thomas, K., & Davies, A. (2005). Neurotrophins: A ticket to ride for BDNF. Current Biology, 15, 262–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. van der Hart, O., Nijenhuis, E. R., & Steele, K. (2005). Dissociation: An insufficiently recognized major feature of complex posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 18, 413–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Winter, H., & Irle, E. (2004). Hippocampal volume in adult burn patients with and without posttraumatic stress disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 2194–2200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Yehuda, R., & LeDoux, J. (2007). Response variation following trauma: A translational neuroscience approach to understanding PTSD. Neuron, 56(1), 19–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petr Bob
    • 1
  • Jana Konicarova
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Neuropsychiatric Research of Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry & UHSLFirst Faculty of Medicine, Charles UniversityPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.TCM KlinikBad KotztingGermany

Personalised recommendations