Washington: Researchers have identified abnormalities in the brains of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), that may serve as a biomarker for the disorder.
ADHD is one of the commonest childhood disorders, affecting an estimated five to eight percent of school-aged children.
Symptoms, which may continue into adulthood, include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity behaviours that are out of the normal range for a child’s age and development.
Xiaobo Li and her colleagues from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York performed fMRI on 18 typically developing children and 18 children diagnosed with ADHD between the range of 9 to 15 years.
While undergoing fMRI, the children engaged in a test of sustained attention in which they were shown a set of three numbers and then asked whether subsequent groups of numbers matched the original set.
For each participant, fMRI produced a brain activation map that revealed which regions of the brain became activated while the child performed the task.
The researchers then compared the brain activation maps of the two groups.
Compared to the normal control group, the children with ADHD showed abnormal functional activity in several regions of the brain involved in the processing of visual attention information.
The researchers also found that communication among the brain regions within this visual attention-processing pathway was disrupted in the children with ADHD.
“What this tells us is that children with ADHD are using partially different functional brain pathways to process this information, which may be caused by impaired white matter pathways involved in visual attention information processing,” Li said.
The study was recently presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).