Smaller prefrontal and premotor volumes in boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Biol Psychiatry. 2002 Oct 15;52(8):785-94. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(02)01412-9.


Background: Anatomic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been limited by use of callosal rather than sulcal/gyral landmarks in defining cerebral lobes and functionally relevant sublobar regions (e.g., prefrontal cortex). We present an investigation of cerebral volumes in ADHD using a Talairach-based approach that uses cortical landmarks to define functionally relevant regions.

Methods: Volumes were compared between groups of 12 boys with ADHD and 12 age- and gender-matched control subjects, using a series of multiple analyses of variance.

Results: Boys with ADHD had (on average) 8.3% smaller total cerebral volumes. Significant reductions in lobar volumes were seen only for the frontal lobes. Within the frontal lobes, a reduction was seen in both gray and white matter volumes, with some evidence suggesting lateralization of these findings: reduction in frontal white matter volume was specific to the left hemisphere; there was a bilateral reduction in frontal gray matter volume but more so in the right hemisphere. Subparcellation of the frontal lobe revealed smaller prefrontal, premotor, and deep white matter volumes.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that ADHD is associated with decreased frontal lobe gray and white matter volumes. More than one subdivision of the frontal lobes appears to be reduced in volume, suggesting that the clinical picture of ADHD encompasses dysfunctions attributable to anomalous development of both premotor and prefrontal cortices.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / pathology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / pathology*