JOURNAL ARTICLE

Abnormal brain connectivity patterns in adults with ADHD: a coherence study

João Ricardo Sato, Marcelo Queiroz Hoexter, Xavier Francisco Castellanos, Luis A Rohde
PloS One 2012, 7 (9): e45671
23049834
Studies based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during the resting state have shown decreased functional connectivity between the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and regions of the Default Mode Network (DMN) in adult patients with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) relative to subjects with typical development (TD). Most studies used Pearson correlation coefficients among the BOLD signals from different brain regions to quantify functional connectivity. Since the Pearson correlation analysis only provides a limited description of functional connectivity, we investigated functional connectivity between the dACC and the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) in three groups (adult patients with ADHD, n=21; TD age-matched subjects, n=21; young TD subjects, n=21) using a more comprehensive analytical approach - unsupervised machine learning using a one-class support vector machine (OC-SVM) that quantifies an abnormality index for each individual. The median abnormality index for patients with ADHD was greater than for TD age-matched subjects (p=0.014); the ADHD and young TD indices did not differ significantly (p=0.480); the median abnormality index of young TD was greater than that of TD age-matched subjects (p=0.016). Low frequencies below 0.05 Hz and around 0.20 Hz were the most relevant for discriminating between ADHD patients and TD age-matched controls and between the older and younger TD subjects. In addition, we validated our approach using the fMRI data of children publicly released by the ADHD-200 Competition, obtaining similar results. Our findings suggest that the abnormal coherence patterns observed in patients with ADHD in this study resemble the patterns observed in young typically developing subjects, which reinforces the hypothesis that ADHD is associated with brain maturation deficits.

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