Ventral striatal hyporesponsiveness during reward anticipation in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Mar 1;61(5):720-4. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.04.042. Epub 2006 Sep 1.


Background: Although abnormalities in reward processing have been proposed to underlie attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), this link has not been tested explicitly with neural probes.

Methods: This hypothesis was tested by using fMRI to compare neural activity within the striatum in individuals with ADHD and healthy controls during a reward-anticipation task that has been shown previously to produce reliable increases in ventral striatum activity in healthy adults and healthy adolescents. Eleven adolescents with ADHD (5 off medication and 6 medication-naïve) and 11 healthy controls (ages 12-17 y) were included. Groups were matched for age, gender, and intelligence quotient.

Results: We found reduced ventral striatal activation in adolescents with ADHD during reward anticipation, relative to healthy controls. Moreover, ventral striatal activation was negatively correlated with parent-rated hyperactive/impulsive symptoms across the entire sample.

Conclusions: These findings provide neural evidence that symptoms of ADHD, and impulsivity or hyperactivity in particular, may involve diminished reward anticipation, in addition to commonly observed executive dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / pathology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Basal Ganglia / blood supply
  • Basal Ganglia / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reward*


  • Oxygen