Multimodal mapping of the brain’s functional connectivity and the adult outcome of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [Psychological and Cognitive Sciences]
We have a limited understanding of why many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder do not outgrow the disorder by adulthood. Around 20–30% retain the full syndrome as young adults, and about 50% show partial, rather than complete, remission. Here, to delineate the neurobiology of this variable outcome, we ask if the persistence of childhood symptoms into adulthood impacts on the brain’s functional connectivity. We studied 205 participants followed clinically since childhood. In early adulthood, participants underwent magnetoencephalography (MEG) to measure neuronal activity directly and functional MRI (fMRI) to measure hemodynamic activity during a task-free period (the “resting state”). We found that symptoms of inattention persisting into adulthood were associated with disrupted patterns of typical functional connectivity in both MEG and fMRI. Specifically, those with persistent inattention lost the typical balance of connections within the default mode network (DMN; prominent during introspective thought) and connections between this network and those supporting attention and cognitive control. By contrast, adults whose childhood inattentive symptoms had resolved did not differ significantly from their never-affected peers, both hemodynamically and electrophysiologically. The anomalies in functional connectivity tied to clinically significant inattention centered on midline regions of the DMN in both MEG and fMRI, boosting confidence in a possible pathophysiological role. The findings suggest that the clinical course of this common childhood onset disorder impacts the functional connectivity of the adult brain.
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