Alterations in the functional anatomy of working memory in adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Feb;157(2):278-80. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.157.2.278.


Objective: The authors used a functional neuroimaging study with a working memory probe to investigate the pathophysiology of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Their goal was to compare regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) changes related to working memory in adults with and without ADHD.

Method: Using [(15)O]H(2)O positron emission tomography (PET) studies, the authors compared the sites of neural activation related to working memory in six adult men diagnosed with ADHD and six healthy men without ADHD who were matched in age and general intelligence.

Results: Task-related changes in rCBF in the men without ADHD were more prominent in the frontal and temporal regions, but rCBF changes in men with ADHD were more widespread and primarily located in the occipital regions.

Conclusions: These data suggest the use of compensatory mental and neural strategies by subjects with ADHD in response to a disrupted ability to inhibit attention to nonrelevant stimuli and the use of internalized speech to guide behavior.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply*
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Frontal Lobe / blood supply
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Oxygen Radioisotopes
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Temporal Lobe / blood supply
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Water


  • Oxygen Radioisotopes
  • Water