King's College London

Research portal

Shared and Disorder-Specific Event-Related Brain Oscillatory Markers of Attentional Dysfunction in ADHD and Bipolar Disorder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain topography
Early online date7 Feb 2018
Accepted/In press25 Jan 2018
E-pub ahead of print7 Feb 2018


King's Authors


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder (BD) often present with overlapping symptoms and cognitive impairments, such as increased fluctuations in attentional performance measured by increased reaction-time variability (RTV). We previously provided initial evidence of shared and distinct event-related potential (ERP) impairments in ADHD and BD in a direct electrophysiological comparison, but no study to date has compared neural mechanisms underlying attentional impairments with finer-grained brain oscillatory markers. Here, we aimed to compare the neural underpinnings of impaired attentional processes in ADHD and BD, by examining event-related brain oscillations during a reaction-time task under slow-unrewarded baseline and fast-incentive conditions. We measured cognitive performance, ERPs and brain-oscillatory modulations of power and phase variability in 20 women with ADHD, 20 women with BD (currently euthymic) and 20 control women. Compared to controls, both ADHD and BD groups showed increased RTV in the baseline condition and increased RTV, theta phase variability and lower contingent negative variation in the fast-incentive condition. Unlike controls, neither clinical group showed an improvement from the slow-unrewarded baseline to the fast-incentive condition in attentional P3 amplitude or alpha power suppression. Most impairments did not differ between the disorders, as only an adjustment in beta suppression between conditions (lower in the ADHD group) distinguished between the clinical groups. These findings suggest shared impairments in women with ADHD and BD in cognitive and neural variability, preparatory activity and inability to adjust attention allocation and activation. These overlapping impairments may represent shared neurobiological mechanisms of attentional dysfunction in ADHD and BD, and potentially underlie common symptoms in both disorders.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454