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Large-scale brain organization during cognitive control in ADHD

 

Large-scale brain organization during cognitive control in ADHD

Purpose: 
ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed developmental disorder of childhood. It is a
large public health concern, as it is associated with increased risk for poor academic achievement,
substance abuse, and criminal behavior. Research into the neural basis of ADHD is crucial to
improve early detection and treatment. It has been proposed that ADHD symptomatology may be
a result of disrupted brain network organization. Therefore, this study uses innovative
neuroimaging methods to examine ADHD-related dysfunction in brain network organization and
to quantify how stimulant medication normalizes that dysfunction. The findings may lead to the
identification of biomarkers to improve early diagnosis of ADHD and treatments targeting the
dysfunctional systems. This study is conducted by Dr. Jessica Cohen, a professor in the
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Methodology: 
Participants will be children aged 8-12 who have not yet gone through puberty.
Half of the participants will have an ADHD diagnosis, and half will not. Participants with
ADHD will take part in multiple testing sessions that include diagnosis and eligibility screening,
neuropsychological and behavioral testing, and, if eligible, MRI scans and a medication
challenge. As part of the medication challenge, participants will undergo one MRI scan on
placebo and one MRI scan on stimulant medication (Ritalin). The medication challenge sessions
will be counterbalanced and double-blind so neither the participants nor the study staff will know
which session includes placebo and which includes Ritalin. Typically developing children
without ADHD will also be enrolled, and will undergo two identical MRI scans with no
medication or placebo. We will measure functional connectivity using functional MRI and
implement innovative graph theoretical analytic tools to characterize brain network organization.
We will relate brain network organization to symptomatology and behavioral testing measures,
and will assess how Ritalin changes brain network organization in a way that leads to
improvements in symptoms and behavior.

Funding type: 
NIH National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – federal government