Resting EEG theta activity predicts cognitive performance in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Pediatr Neurol. 2005 Apr;32(4):248-56. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2004.11.009.


Quantitative electroencephalography has contributed significantly to elucidating the neurobiologic mechanisms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The most consistent and robust electroencephalographic disturbance in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder has been abnormally increased theta band during resting conditions. Separate research using attention-demanding tests has elucidated cognitive disturbances that differentiate attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. This study attempts to integrate electroencephalographic and neuropsychological indices to determine whether cognitive performance is specifically related to increased theta. Theta activity was recorded during a resting condition for 46 children/adolescents with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and their sex- and age-matched control subjects. Accuracy and reaction time during an auditory oddball and a visual continuous performance test were then recorded. Compared with control subjects, the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder group manifested significantly increased (primarily left) frontal theta. Furthermore, the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder group scored significantly delayed reaction time and decreased accuracy in both tasks. Correlation analysis revealed a significant relationship between frontal (primarily left) theta and oddball accuracy for the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder group compared with a significant relationship between posterior (primarily right) theta and reaction time in the continuous performance test for the control group. These results indicate that spatial neurophysiologic deficits in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may be related to disturbances in signal detection. This observation has important implications for the role of trait-like biologic deficits in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder predicting performance in information processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Theta Rhythm*