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Original article| Volume 60, ISSUE 10, P1062-1070, November 15, 2006

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Activation in Ventral Prefrontal Cortex is Sensitive to Genetic Vulnerability for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Sarah Durston
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Sarah Durston Ph.D., Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Neuroimaging Lab, HP A 01.468, University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands
    Affiliations
    Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

    Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York
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  • Martijn Mulder
    Affiliations
    Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • B.J. Casey
    Affiliations
    Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York
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  • Tim Ziermans
    Affiliations
    Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • Herman van Engeland
    Affiliations
    Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    Search for articles by this author

      Background

      Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a heritable neuropsychiatric disorder, associated with atypical patterns of brain activation in functional imaging studies. Neuroimaging measures may serve as an intermediate phenotype in genetic studies of ADHD, as they are putatively more closely linked to gene expression than a clinical diagnosis.

      Methods

      We used rapid, mixed-trial, event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate changes in brain activation during a go no-go task in boys with ADHD, their unaffected siblings, and matched control subjects.

      Results

      On the hardest inhibitory trials in our task, children and adolescents with ADHD had lower accuracy than control subjects, whereas their unaffected siblings did not. Control subjects activated a network of regions, including ventral prefrontal and inferior parietal cortex. Both children and adolescents with ADHD and their unaffected siblings showed decreased activation in these areas, as well as fewer correlations between performance and activation.

      Conclusions

      These findings suggest that the magnitude of activation during successful inhibitions is sensitive to genetic vulnerability for ADHD in a number of regions, including ventral prefrontal cortex. If this can be replicated in future studies, this suggests that neuroimaging measures related to inhibitory control may be suitable as intermediate phenotypes in studies investigating gene effects in ADHD.

      Key Words

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