Brain systems supporting higher cognitive and motor control develop in a parallel manner, dependent on functional integrity and maturation of related regions, suggesting neighbouring neural circuitry. Concurrent examination of motor and cognitive control can provide a window into neurological development. However, identification of performance-based measures that do not correlate with IQ has been a challenge.
Timed motor performance from the Physical and Neurological Examination of Subtle Signs and IQ were analysed in 136 children aged 6 to 16 (mean age 10y 2.6mo, SD 2y 6.4mo; 98 female, 38male) attending an outpatient neuropsychology clinic and 136 right-handed comparison individuals aged 6 to 16 (mean age 10y 3.1mo, SD 2y 6.1mo; 98 female, 38male). Timed activities – three repetitive movements (toe tapping, hand patting, finger tapping) and three sequenced movements (heel–toe tap, hand pronate/supinate, finger sequencing) each performed on the right and left – were included in exploratory factor analyses.
Among comparison individuals, factor analysis yielded two factors – repetitive and sequenced movements – with the sequenced factor significantly predictive of Verbal IQ (VIQ) (ΔR2=0.018, p=0.019), but not the repetitive factor (ΔR2=0.004, p=0.39). Factor analysis within the clinical group yielded two similar factors (repetitive and sequenced), both significantly predictive of VIQ, (ΔR2=0.028, p=0.015; ΔR2=0.046, p=0.002 respectively).
Among typical children, repetitive timed tasks may be independent of IQ; however, sequenced tasks share more variance, implying shared neural substrates. Among neurologically vulnerable populations, however, both sequenced and repetitive movements covary with IQ, suggesting that repetitive speed is more indicative of underlying neurological integrity.
Since boys are more commonly diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) than girls, the majority of theories and published research studies of ADHD have been based on samples comprised primarily (or exclusively) of boys. While psychosocial impairment in girls with ADHD is well established, the neuropsychological and neurobiological basis of these deficits is less consistently observed. There is growing evidence that boys’ and girls’ brains develop and mature at different rates, suggesting that the trajectory of early anomalous brain development in ADHD may also be sex-specific. It remains unclear, however, whether earlier brain maturation observed in girls with ADHD is protective. In this review, we outline the current theory and research findings that seek to establish a unique neurobiological profile of girls with ADHD, highlighting sex differences in typical brain development and among children with ADHD. The review highlights findings from neurological, neurocognitive, and behavioral studies. Future research directions are suggested, including the need for longitudinal neuroimaging and neurobehavioral investigation beginning as early as the preschool years, and continuing through adolescence and adulthood, with consideration of identified sex differences in the development of ADHD.
childhood; development; executive functions; neuroimaging; ADHD; gender
To determine the relationship between napping and cognitive function in preschool-aged children.
Daytime napping, nighttime sleep and cognitive function were assessed in fifty-nine typically developing children ages 3-5 years, who were enrolled in full-time childcare. Participants wore an actigraphy watch for 7 days to measure sleep and napping patterns, and completed neuropsychological testing emphasizing attention, response control, and vocabulary. Parents of participants completed behavior ratings and sleep logs during the study. Sleep/wake cycles were scored with the Sadeh algorithm.
Children who napped more on weekdays were also more likely to nap during weekends. Weekday napping and nighttime sleep were inversely correlated, such that those who napped more slept less at night, while total weekday sleep remained relatively constant. Weekday napping was significantly (negatively) correlated with vocabulary and auditory attention span, and weekday nighttime sleep was positively correlated with vocabulary. Nighttime sleep was also significantly negatively correlated with performance, such that those who slept less at night made more impulsive errors on a computerized go/no-go test.
Daytime napping is actually negatively correlated with neurocognitive function in preschoolers. Nighttime sleep appears to be more critical for development of cognitive performance. Cessation of napping may serve as a developmental milestone of brain maturation. Children who nap less do not appear to be sleep deprived, especially if they compensate with increased nighttime sleep. An alternative explanation is that children who sleep less at night are sleep deprived and require a nap. A randomized trial of nap restriction would be the next step in understanding the relationship between napping and neurocognitive performance.
childhood; attention; sleep; cognition; actigraphy; preschool
There is considerable lay discussion that children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have increased difficult with multitasking, but there are few experimental data. In the current study, we examine the simultaneous processing of two stimulus-response tasks using the psychological refractory period (PRP) effect. We hypothesized that children with ADHD would show a greater PRP effect, suggesting a prolonged “bottleneck” in stimulus-response processing. A total of 19 school-aged children with ADHD showed a prolonged PRP effect compared with 25 control children, suggesting a higher cognitive cost in ADHD for multi-tasking.
Multi-tasking; Executive Function; ADHD; Processing Speed; Psychological Refractory Period
Actigraphy provides a non-invasive objective means to assess sleep–wake cycles. In young children, parent logs can also be useful for obtaining sleep–wake information. The authors hypothesized that actigraphy and parent logs were both equally valid instruments in healthy preschool-aged children. The authors studied 59 children aged 3 to 5 years in full-time day care. Each child was screened for medical problems and developmental delays before being fitted with an actigraphy watch, which was worn for 1 week. Parents maintained logs of sleep and wakefulness during the same period, with input from day care workers. In general, parents overestimated the amount of nighttime sleep measured by actigraphy by 13% to 22% (all significant). Although there was no difference in sleep onset times, parents reported later rise times on the weekend and fewer nighttime awakenings. There was no significant difference between parent logs and actigraphy with regard to daytime napping. The authors conclude that parent logs are best utilized in assessing daytime sleep and sleep onset, whereas actigraphy should be used to assess nighttime sleep and sleep offset time.
The current study examined regional frontal lobe volumes based on functionally relevant subdivisions in contemporaneously recruited samples of boys and girls with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Forty-four boys (21 ADHD, 23 control) and 42 girls (21 ADHD, 21 control), ages 8–13 years, participated. Sulcal–gyral landmarks were used to manually delimit functionally relevant regions within the frontal lobe: primary motor cortex, anterior cingulate, deep white matter, premotor regions [supplementary motor complex (SMC), frontal eye field, lateral premotor cortex (LPM)], and prefrontal cortex (PFC) regions [medial PFC, dorsolateral PFC (DLPFC), inferior PFC, lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), and medial OFC]. Compared to sex-matched controls, boys and girls with ADHD showed reduced volumes (gray and white matter) in the left SMC. Conversely, girls (but not boys) with ADHD showed reduced gray matter volume in left LPM; while boys (but not girls) with ADHD showed reduced white matter volume in left medial PFC. Reduced left SMC gray matter volumes predicted increased go/no–go commission rate in children with ADHD. Reduced left LPM gray matter volumes predicted increased go/no–go variability, but only among girls with ADHD. Results highlight different patterns of anomalous frontal lobe development among boys and girls with ADHD beyond that detected by measuring whole lobar volumes.
Segmentation; Premotor; Prefrontal; Supplementary Motor Complex (SMC); Pre-SMA; Gender; Sex; Childhood
Diffusion tensor imaging data were collected at 3.0 Tesla from 16 children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and 16 typically developing controls, ages 9 to 14 years. Fractional anisotropy images were calculated and normalized by linear transformation. Voxel-wise and atlas-based region-of-interest analyses were performed. Using voxel-wise analysis, fractional anisotropy was found to be significantly increased in the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder group in the right superior frontal gyrus and posterior thalamic radiation, and left dorsal posterior cingulate gyrus, lingual gyrus, and parahippocampal gyrus. No regions showed significantly decreased fractional anisotropy in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Region-of-interest analysis revealed increased fractional anisotropy in the left sagittal stratum, that is, white matter that connects the temporal lobe to distant cortical regions. Only fractional anisotropy in the left sagittal stratum was significantly associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptom severity. Several recent studies have reported pathological increases in fractional anisotropy in other conditions, highlighting the relevance of diffusion tensor imaging in identifying atypical white matter structure associated with neurodevelopmental processes.
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); development; cognitive; diffusion tensor imaging; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
A total of 37 children ages 8 to 14 years, screened for word-reading difficulties (23 with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD; 14 controls) completed oral reading and rapid automatized naming (RAN) tests. RAN trials were segmented into pause and articulation time and intraindividual variability. There were no group differences on reading or RAN variables. Color- and letter-naming pause times and number-naming articulation time were significant predictors of reading fluency. In contrast, number and letter pause variability were predictors of comprehension. Results support analysis of subcomponents of RAN and add to literature emphasizing intraindividual variability as a marker for response preparation, which has relevance to reading comprehension.
Reading; Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Dyslexia; Comprehension; Executive function; Variability
Ecological validity of neuropsychological assessment includes the ability of tests to predict real-world functioning and/or covary with brain structures. Studies have examined the relationship between adaptive skills and test performance, with less focus on the association between regional brain volumes and neurobehavioral function in healthy children. The present study examined the relationship between temporal lobe gray matter volumes and performance on two neuropsychological tests hypothesized to measure temporal lobe functioning (Visual Perception-VP; Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Third Edition-PPVT-III) in 48 healthy children ages 5-18 years. After controlling for age and gender, left and right temporal and left occipital volumes were significant predictors of VP. Left and right frontal and temporal volumes were significant predictors of PPVT-III. Temporal volume emerged as the strongest lobar correlate with both tests. These results provide convergent and discriminant validity supporting VP as a measure of the “what” system; but suggest the PPVT-III as a complex measure of receptive vocabulary, potentially involving executive function demands.
Neuropsychological Tests; Visual Perception; Receptive Language; MRI; Brain Volumes; Temporal Lobe; Normal Development; PPVT
To examine patterns of executive dysfunction associated with ADHD, 123 children (54 ADHD, 69 controls) ages 8–16 years were administered selected subtests from the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS). Children with ADHD performed significantly worse than controls on measures of both basic (less executive demand) skills and those with more executive demand from the Color-Word Interference and Tower subtests; however, no group differences were noted on any of the D-KEFS contrast scores. Most subtype comparisons yielded no differences; however, children with the Combined subtype outperformed children with the Inattentive subtype on measures of both basic and executive skills from the Trail Making Test. Children with ADHD demonstrate executive dysfunction that is identified by both D-KEFS summary, but not contrast scores. In this carefully screened sample of children with ADHD, few significant differences were found between groups suggesting limited sensitivity or specificity of the D-KEFS for classifying children with ADHD.
ADHD; Subtype; Executive Function; Classification; Children; Pediatrics
To examine effects of group (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD] versus Typically Developing [TD]), sex, and ADHD subtype on “process/optional” measures of executive functioning, children (n = 123; 54 ADHD, 69 TD) aged 8−16 completed subtests from the D-KEFS. No group, sex, or ADHD subtype effects were found on optional measures from the Trail Making, Color–Word Interference, and Tower tests. A significant interaction was found for Verbal Fluency Total Repetition Errors; boys with Combined/Hyperactive-Impulsive (ADHD-C/HI) type ADHD performed better than ADHD-C/HI girls, whereas girls with Inattentive type ADHD (ADHD-I) performed better than ADHDI boys. Overall, children with ADHD did not differ from TD on most optional measures from the D-KEFS. When sex and ADHD subtype were considered, children with the subtype of ADHD less common for sex were at greater risk for poorer performance.
Process approach; ADHD; Executive function; D-KEFS
Previous research has suggested that adolescents with myelomeningocele and shunted hydrocephalus (MMH) have difficulties with aspects of executive functioning and, in turn, with functional independence. There is little research, however, examining patterns of executive functioning across adolescence in this population. The goal of this cross-sectional study was to examine parent ratings of executive function in children with MMH and in typically developing peers across late childhood and adolescence. Parents of 36 individuals with MMH and 35 typically developing peers, ages 10 to 18 years, completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF). The BRIEF is organized into eight scales and two primary indices—Metacognition (MCI) and Behavioral Regulation (BRI). As a whole, the children with MMH had significantly higher BRIEF T-scores, as well as a higher prevalence of clinically significant T-scores across subscales, particularly those representing cognitive control. Effects of group, age, and age-by-group interactions on the mean raw scores of the MCI and BRI were examined using regression analyses. There were significant group effects (p < .05) for both the BRI and MCI, with the controls having significantly lower mean ratings than the MMH group. There was also a significant contribution of age-by-group interaction on the BRI (p < .05). Although mean raw scores on the BRI for the MMH group remained stable across ages, mean raw scores in the control group decreased as age increased. Thus, healthy children have age-related improvements in executive control behaviors across adolescence, particularly behavioral control, while children with MMH demonstrate no age-related improvements in parent reported executive behaviors across adolescence. Therefore, children with MMH may continue to require targeted interventions and modifications to address executive dysfunction into young adulthood in order to promote functional independence.
BRIEF; Childhood and adolescence; Executive functioning; MMH
Age-related change in the difference between left- and right-side speed on motor examination may be an important indicator of maturation. Cortical maturation and myelination of the corpus callosum are considered to be related to increased bilateral skill and speed on timed motor tasks. We compared left minus right foot, hand, and finger speed differences using the Revised Physical and Neurological Assessment for Subtle Signs (PANESS; Denckla, 1985); examining 130 typically developing right-handed children (65 boys, 65 girls) ages 7−14. Timed tasks included right and left sets of 20 toe taps, 10 toe-heel alternation sequences, 20 hand pats, 10 hand pronate-supinate sets, 20 finger taps, and 5 sequences of each finger-to-thumb apposition. For each individual, six difference scores between left- and right-sided speeded performances of timed motor tasks were analyzed. Left-right differences decreased significantly with age on toe tapping, heel-toe alternations, hand pronation-supination, finger repetition, and finger sequencing. There were significant gender effects for heel-toe sequences (boys showing a greater left-right difference than girls), and a significant interaction between age and gender for hand pronation-supination, such that the magnitude of the left-right difference was similar for younger, compared with older girls, while the difference was significantly larger for younger, compared to older boys. Speed of performing right and left timed motor tasks equalizes with development; for some tasks, the equalization occurs earlier in girls than in boys.
Motor; PANESS; Laterality; Gender; Corpus callosum
Processing speed deficits affect reading efficiency, even among individuals who recognize and decode words accurately. Children with ADHD who decode words accurately can still have inefficient reading fluency, leading to a bottleneck in other cognitive processes. This “slowing” in ADHD is associated with deficits in fundamental components of executive function underlying processing speed, including response selection. The purpose of the present study was to deconstruct processing speed in order to determine which components of executive control best explain the “processing” speed deficits related to reading fluency in ADHD. Participants (41 ADHD, 21 controls), ages 9-14, screened for language disorders, word reading deficits, and psychiatric disorders, were administered measures of copying speed, processing speed, reading fluency, working memory, reaction time, inhibition, and auditory attention span. Compared to controls, children with ADHD showed reduced oral and silent reading fluency, and reduced processing speed—driven primarily by deficits on WISC-IV Coding. In contrast, groups did not differ on copying speed. After controlling for copying speed, sex, severity of ADHD-related symptomatology, and GAI, slowed “processing” speed (i.e., Coding) was significantly associated with verbal span and measures of working memory, but not with measures of response control/inhibition, lexical retrieval speed, reaction time, or intra-subject variability. Further, “processing” speed (i.e., Coding, residualized for copying speed) and working memory were significant predictors of oral reading fluency. Abnormalities in working memory and response selection (which are frontally-mediated and enter into the output side of processing speed) may play an important role in deficits in reading fluency in ADHD, potentially more than posteriorally-mediated problems with orienting of attention or perceiving the stimulus.
Reading; Attention; Child; Dyslexia; Fluency; Working Memory; Executive Function
The majority of research on neurobehavioral functioning among children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is based on samples comprised primarily (or exclusively) of boys. Although functional impairment is well established, available research has yet to specify a neuropsychological profile distinct to girls with ADHD. The purpose of this study was to examine performance within four components of executive function (EF) in contemporaneously recruited samples of girls and boys with ADHD. Fifty-six children with ADHD (26 girls) and 90 controls (42 girls), ages 8–13, were administered neuropsychological tests emphasizing response inhibition, response preparation, working memory, and planning/shifting. There were no significant differences in age or SES between boys or girls with ADHD or their sex-matched controls; ADHD subtype distribution did not differ by sex. Compared with controls, children with ADHD showed significant deficits on all four EF components. Girls and boys with ADHD showed similar patterns of deficit on tasks involving response preparation and working memory; however, they manifested different patterns of executive dysfunction on tasks related to response inhibition and planning. Girls with ADHD showed elevated motor overflow, while boys with ADHD showed greater impairment during conscious, effortful response inhibition. Girls, but not boys with ADHD, showed impairment in planning. There were no differences between ADHD subtypes on any EF component. These findings highlight the importance of studying boys and girls separately (as well as together) when considering manifestations of executive dysfunction in ADHD.
Attention; Response control; Working memory; Inhibition; Planning; Childhood; Development
To examine patterns of executive and oculomotor control in a group of both boys and girls with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Cross-sectional study of 120 children aged 8 to 12 years, including 60 with ADHD (24 girls) and 60 typically developing controls (29 girls). Oculomotor paradigms included visually guided saccades (VGS), antisaccades, memory-guided saccades, and a go/no-go test, with variables of interest emphasizing response preparation, response inhibition, and working memory.
As a group, children with ADHD demonstrated significant deficits in oculomotor response preparation (VGS latency and variability) and response inhibition but not working memory. Girls, but not boys with ADHD, had significantly longer VGS latencies, even after controlling for differences in ADHD symptom severity. The ADHD subtypes did not differ on response preparation or inhibition measures; however, children with the Inattentive subtype were less accurate on the working memory task than those with the Combined subtype.
Sex differences in children with ADHD extend beyond symptom presentation to the development of oculomotor control. Saccade latency may represent a specific deficit among girls with ADHD.
eye movement; inhibitory control; executive function; visual attention; frontal
Emerging research supports the contribution of executive function (EF) to reading comprehension; however, a unique pattern has not been established for children who demonstrate comprehension difficulties despite average word recognition ability (specific reading comprehension deficit; S-RCD). To identify particular EF components on which children with S-RCD struggle, a range of EF skills was compared among 86 children, ages 10 to 14, grouped by word reading and comprehension abilities: 24 average readers, 44 with word recognition deficits (WRD), and 18 S-RCD. An exploratory principal components analysis of EF tests identified three latent factors, used in subsequent group comparisons: Planning/Spatial Working Memory, Verbal Working Memory, and Response Inhibition. The WRD group exhibited deficits (relative to controls) on Verbal Working Memory and Inhibition factors; S-RCD children performed more poorly than controls on the Planning factor. Further analyses suggested the WRD group’s poor performance on EF factors was a by-product of core deficits linked to WRD (after controlling for phonological processing, this group no longer showed EF deficits). In contrast, the S-RCD group’s poor performance on the planning component remained significant after controlling for phonological processing. Findings suggest reading comprehension difficulties are linked to executive dysfunction; in particular, poor strategic planning/organizing may lead to reading comprehension problems.
reading; ADHD; dyslexia; comprehension; executive function; working memory
Children with autism often have difficulty performing skilled movements. Praxis performance requires basic motor skill, knowledge of representations of the movement (mediated by parietal regions), and transcoding of these representations into movement plans (mediated by premotor circuits). The goals of this study were: (a) to determine whether dyspraxia in autism is associated with impaired representational (“postural”) knowledge, and (b) to examine the contributions of postural knowledge and basic motor skill to dyspraxia in autism. Thirty-seven children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 50 typically developing (TD) children, ages 8–13, completed: (a) an examination of basic motor skills, (b) a postural knowledge test assessing praxis discrimination, and (c) a praxis examination. Children with ASD showed worse basic motor skill and postural knowledge than controls. The ASD group continued to show significantly poorer praxis than controls after accounting for age, IQ, basic motor skill, and postural knowledge. Dyspraxia in autism appears to be associated with impaired formation of spatial representations, as well as transcoding and execution. Distributed abnormality across parietal, premotor, and motor circuitry, as well as anomalous connectivity may be implicated.
developmental dyspraxia; premotor cortex; autism spectrum disorder; movement representation; motor learning
Intracranial tumors are the most common neoplasms of childhood, accounting for approximately 20% of all pediatric malignancies. Radiation therapy has led directly to significant increases in survival of children with certain types of intracranial tumors; however, given the aggressive nature of this therapy, children are at risk for exhibiting changes in brain structure, neuronal biochemistry, and neurocognitive functioning. In this case report, we present neuropsychological, magnetic resonance imaging, proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, and diffusion tensor imaging data for two adolescents (one patient with ependymal spinal cord tumor with intracranial metastases, and one healthy, typically developing control) from three time points as defined by the patient's radiation schedule (baseline before the patient's radiation therapy, 6 months following completion of the patient's radiation, and 27 months following the patient's radiation). In the patient, there were progressive decreases in gray and white matter volumes as well as early decreases in mean N-acetyl aspartate/choline (NAA/Cho) ratios and fractional anisotropy (FA) in regions with normal appearance on conventional MRI. At the last follow-up, NAA/Cho and FA tended to change in the direction to normal values in selected regions. At the same time, the patient had initial reduction in language and motor skills, followed by return to baseline, but later onset delay in visuospatial and visual perceptual skills. Results are discussed in terms of sensitivity of the four techniques to early and late effects of treatment, and avenues for future investigations.
Neuroimaging; Neuropsychological; Neoplasm; Radiation; Diffusion; Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
Assessment of attentional processes via computerized assessment is frequently used to quantify intra-individual cognitive improvement or decline in response to treatment. However, assessment of intra-individual change is highly dependent on sufficient test reliability. We examined the test–retest reliability of selected variables from one popular computerized continuous performance test (CPT)—i.e., the Conners’ CPT – Second Edition (CPT-II). Participants were 39 healthy children (20 girls) ages 6–18 without intellectual impairment (mean PPVT-III SS = 102.6), LD, or psychiatric disorders (DICA-IV). Test–retest reliability over the 3–8 month interval (mean = 6 months) was acceptable (Intraclass Correlations [ICC] = .82 to .92) on comparison measures (Beery Test of Visual Perception, WISC-IV Block Design, PPVT-III). In contrast, test–retest reliability was only modest for CPT-II raw scores (ICCs ranging from .62 to .82) and T-scores (ICCs ranging from .33 to .65) for variables of interest (Omissions, Commissions, Variability, Hit Reaction Time, and Attentiveness). Using test–retest reliability information published in the CPT-II manual, 90% confidence intervals based on reliable change index (RCI) methodology were constructed to examine the significance of test–retest difference/change scores. Of the participants in this sample of typically developing youth, 30% generated intra-individual changes in T-scores on the Omissions and Attentiveness variables that exceeded the 90% confidence intervals and qualified as “statistically rare” changes in score. These results suggest a considerable degree of normal variability in CPT-II test scores over extended test–retest intervals, and suggest a need for caution when interpreting test score changes in neurologically unstable clinical populations.
Attention; Conners’ Continuous Performance Test; Reliable Change Index; Normal development; Serial assessment; Neuropsychology
To examine the impact of interstimulus “jitter” (i.e., randomization of the interval between successive stimulus events) on response control during continuous task performance, 41 healthy adults completed four go/no-go tasks that were identical except for interstimulus interval (ISI) jitter: a 0% jitter task with a fixed (1,000-ms) ISI, a 10% jitter task with an ISI range of 900–1,100 ms, a 30% jitter task with an ISI range of 700–1,300 ms, and a 50% jitter task with an ISI range of 500–1,500 ms. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed a quadratic effect of jitter on commissions across the group and on intrasubject reaction time variability in men; in both cases, performance was best for the 10% jitter condition. A linear effect of jitter was observed for reaction time (RT) with high levels of jitter (50%) resulting in longer RT. Findings suggest that response selection, including inhibition, is optimized by moderate increases in ISI jitter. More deliberate and controlled responding observed with increasing jitter may have important treatment implications for disorders (e.g., attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD), associated with impaired response control.
Inhibitory control; Response preparation; Intrasubject variability; Supplementary motor area; Go/no-go; Attention
Response control is impaired in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Given the corpus callosum's role in response control, we compared callosal morphology in 64 children with ADHD and 64 typically developing children, aged 7 to 13 years, and investigated the relationships between callosal morphology and response control. Area and circumference of 5 callosal segments (genu, rostral body, midbody, isthmus, and splenium) were normalized for cerebral volume and examined for correlation with mean reaction time, intrasubject variability, and/or commission error rate from a go/no-go task. There were no between-group differences in segment areas or circumferences. Reaction time correlated with midbody circumference for boys with ADHD and isthmus circumference for girls with ADHD. For the entire cohort, rostral body circumference correlated with intra-subject variability. Impaired response control in ADHD is associated with anomalies in frontal interhemispheric connections. Future studies examining callosal shape will illuminate the anatomic basis of correlations between callosal segment circumference and response control.
ADHD; corpus callosum; white matter; circumference; reaction time; response control
Volumetric abnormalities of basal ganglia have been associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), especially in boys. To specify localization of these abnormalities, large deformation diffeomorphic metric mapping (LDDMM) was used to examine the effects of ADHD, sex, and their interaction on basal ganglia shapes.
The basal ganglia (caudate, putamen, globus pallidus) were manually delineated on magnetic resonance imaging from 66 typically developing children (35 boys) and 47 children (27 boys) with ADHD. LDDMM mappings from 35 typically developing children were used to generate basal ganglia templates. Shape variations of each structure relative to the template were modeled for each subject as a random field using Laplace-Beltrami basis functions in the template coordinates. Linear regression was used to examine group differences in volumes and shapes of the basal ganglia.
Boys with ADHD showed significantly smaller basal ganglia volumes compared with typically developing boys, and LDDMM revealed the groups remarkably differed in basal ganglia shapes. Volume compression was seen bilaterally in the caudate head and body and anterior putamen as well as in the left anterior globus pallidus and right ventral putamen. Volume expansion was most pronounced in the posterior putamen. No volume or shape differences were revealed in girls with ADHD.
The shape compression pattern of basal ganglia in boys with ADHD suggests that ADHD-associated deviations from typical brain development involve multiple frontal-subcortical control loops, including circuits with premotor, oculomotor, and prefrontal cortices. Further investigations employing brain-behavior analyses will help to discern the task-dependent contributions of these circuits to impaired response control that is characteristic of ADHD.
Interstimulus “jitter” involves randomization of intervals between successive stimulus events, and can facilitate performance on go/no-go tests among healthy adults, though its effect in clinical populations is unclear. Children with Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) commonly exhibit deficient response control, leading to increased intra-subject variability (ISV), which has been linked to anomalous functioning within frontal circuits, as well as their interaction with posterior “default mode” regions. We examined effects of interstimulus jitter on response variability in 39 children, ages 9–14 years (25 ADHD, 14 controls). Participants completed 2 computerized go/no-go tests: one with fixed interstimulus interval (ISI) and one with jittered ISI. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed a significant group-by test interaction, such that introduction of jitter produced a significant decrease in ISV among children with ADHD, but not among controls. Whereas children with ADHD were significantly more variable than controls on the go/no-go test with fixed ISI, their performance with jittered ISI was equivalent to that of controls. Jittering stimulus presentation provides a nonpharmacologic mechanism for improving response control in ADHD. This bottom-up approach may be mediated by increases in vigilance through noradrenergic circuits that facilitate maintenance of frontal circuits critical to response control.
Executive function; Childhood; Variability; Attention; Continuous performance test; Noradrenergic; Locus ceruleus
Background and Purpose
Neuroimaging methods have been utilized to improve our understanding of topographical organization of the brain. In our study, proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (¹H MRSI) was used to evaluate frontal lobe function. The goal was to determine the relationship between neuropsychological measures of frontal lobe function and levels of a surrogate neuronal marker, N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), in typically developing healthy children and adolescents.
Fifty one healthy children (25 girls, 6.2 to 18.3 years old, mean age 12.3 ± 3.6 years) were examined. All children completed a neuropsychological assessment including measures of attention, executive function, memory, language, visual, and motor skills. ¹H MRSI was performed using a multi-slice spin-echo sequence at 1.5 T. General linear model ANCOVA was used to examine the relationship between the neuropsychological test scores and NAA/creatine (Cr) ratios, controlling for age and sex.
A positive relationship between frontal lobe white matter NAA/Cr ratio and performance on two neuropsychological tests associated with frontal lobe function was detected. The Purdue Pegboard Right Hand scores were higher with increasing NAA/Cr in the left frontal white matter (p=0.047) and Stanford-Binet-IV Bead Memory scores improved with increasing NAA/Cr ratio in the right frontal white matter (p=0.032).
An association between frontal white matter NAA/Cr ratios and measures of manual speed and dexterity, and visual working memory was detected. Our data may provide a quantitative basis for assessment of frontal lobe impairments in disease states.