Differences in brain activity of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been compared to normal healthy controls, suggesting neural correlates of cognitive/behavioral symptoms. Symptoms are improved with methylphenidate treatment but limited sources can be cited to show how brain activity in ADHD is altered after pharmacologic treatment. We investigated how long-term oral medication of methylphenidate affects the resting regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in ADHD children, using single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT). rCBF was decreased in the orbitofrontal cortex and middle temporal gyrus in the right hemisphere whereas it was increased in the dorsomedial prefrontal and somatosensory area bilaterally in drug-naive ADHD children compared to control child subjects. After treatment with methylphenidate, the extent of hyperperfusion in the somatosensory area was reduced and significant reduction of rCBF was found in the right striatum for the first time. Methylphenidate treatment also resulted in rCBF increase in superior prefrontal and reduction in ventral higher visual areas bilaterally. The results indicated that improving ADHD symptom after methylphenidate is associated with normalization of abnormally reduced orbitofrontal activity and abnormally increased somatosensory cortical activity. These changes were accompanied with reduced striatum activity lower than that of normal controls. These changes might be associated with improving ADHD to control attention and motor response to irrelevant environmental stimuli after methylphenidate treatment.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.