Event-related wave activity in the EEG provides new marker of ADHD

Clin Neurophysiol. 2008 Jan;119(1):163-79. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2007.09.119. Epub 2007 Nov 28.


Objective: This study examines the utility of new measures of event-related spatio-temporal waves in the EEG as a marker of ADHD, previously shown to be closely related to the P3 ERP in an adult sample.

Methods: Wave activity in the EEG was assessed during both an auditory Oddball and a visual continuous performance task (CPT) for an ADHD group ranging in age from 6 to 18 years and comprising mostly Combined and Inattentive subtypes, and for an age and gender matched control group.

Results: The ADHD subjects had less wave activity at low frequencies ( approximately 1 Hz) during both tasks. For auditory Oddball targets, this effect was shown to be related to smaller P3 ERP amplitudes. During CPT, the approximately 1 Hz wave activity in the ADHD subjects was inversely related to clinical and behavioral measures of hyperactivity and impulsivity. CPT wave activity at approximately 1 Hz was seen to "normalise" following treatment with stimulant medication.

Conclusions: The results identify a deficit in low frequency wave activity as a new marker for ADHD associated with levels of hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Significance: The marker is evident across a range of tasks and may be specific to ADHD. While lower approximately 1 Hz activity partly accounts for reduced P3 ERPs in ADHD, the effect also arises for tasks that do not elicit a P3. Deficits in behavioral inhibition are hypothesized to arise from underlying dysregulation of cortical inhibition.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Dextroamphetamine / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / drug effects
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Spectrum Analysis


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine