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Impact of Emotional Salience on Episodic Memory in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study

      Background

      Patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show episodic memory deficits especially in complex memory tasks. We investigated the neural correlates of memory formation in ADHD and their modulation by stimulus salience.

      Methods

      We recorded event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging during an episodic memory paradigm with neutral and emotional pictures in 12 male ADHD subjects and 12 healthy adolescents.

      Results

      Emotional salience did significantly augment memory performance in ADHD patients. Successful encoding of neutral pictures was associated with activation of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in healthy adolescents but with activation of the superior parietal lobe (SPL) and precuneus in ADHD patients. Successful encoding of emotional pictures was associated with prefrontal and inferior temporal cortex activation in both groups. Healthy adolescents, moreover, showed deactivation in the inferior parietal lobe.

      Conclusions

      From a pathophysiological point of view, the most striking functional differences between healthy adolescents and ADHD patients were in the ACC and SPL. We suggest that increased SPL activation in ADHD reflected attentional compensation for low ACC activation during the encoding of neutral pictures. The higher salience of emotional stimuli, in contrast, regulated the interplay between ACC and SPL in conjunction with improving memory to the level of healthy adolescents.

      Key Words

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