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Neural Correlates of the Dual-Pathway Model for ADHD in Adolescents

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chun Shen, Qiang Luo, Tianye Jia, Qi Zhao, Sylvane Desrivières, Erin Burke Quinlan, Tobias Banaschewski, Sabina Millenet, Arun L.W. Bokde, Christian Büchel, Herta Flor, Vincent Frouin, Hugh Garavan, Penny Gowland, Andreas Heinz, Bernd Ittermann, Jean Luc Martinot, Eric Artiges, Marie Laure Paillère-Martinot, Frauke Nees & 11 more Dimitri Papadopoulos Orfanos, Tomás Paus, Luise Poustka, Juliane H. Fröhner, Michael N. Smolka, Henrik Walter, Robert Whelan, Fei Li, Jianfeng Feng, Gunter Schumann, Barbara J. Sahakian

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-854
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number9
PublishedSep 2020

King's Authors


Objective: The dual-pathway model has been proposed to explain the heterogeneity in symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by two independent psychological pathways based on distinct brain circuits. The authors sought to test whether the hypothesized cognitive and motivational pathways have separable neural correlates. Methods: In a longitudinal community-based cohort of 1,963 adolescents, the neuroanatomical correlates of ADHD were identified by a voxel-wise association analysis and then validated using an independent clinical sample (99 never-medicated patients with ADHD, 56 medicated patients with ADHD, and 267 healthy control subjects). The cognitive and motivational pathways were assessed by neuropsychological tests of working memory, intrasubject variability, stop-signal reaction time, and delay discounting. The associations were tested between the identified neuroanatomical correlates and both ADHD symptoms 2 years later and the polygenic risk score for ADHD. Results: Gray matter volumes of both a prefrontal cluster and a posterior occipital cluster were negatively associated with inattention. Compared with healthy control subjects, never-medicated patients, but not medicated patients, had significantly lower gray matter volumes in these two clusters. Working memory and intrasubject variability were associated with the posterior occipital cluster, and delay discounting was independently associated with both clusters. The baseline gray matter volume of the posterior occipital cluster predicted the inattention symptoms in a 2-year follow-up and was associated with the genetic risk for ADHD. Conclusions: The dual-pathway model has both shared and separable neuroanatomical correlates, and the shared correlate in the occipital cortex has the potential to serve as an imaging trait marker of ADHD, especially the inattention symptom domain.

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