Current self-reported symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder are associated with total brain volume in healthy adults

PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31273. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031273. Epub 2012 Feb 10.


Background: Reduced total brain volume is a consistent finding in children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In order to get a better understanding of the neurobiology of ADHD, we take the first step in studying the dimensionality of current self-reported adult ADHD symptoms, by looking at its relation with total brain volume.

Methodology/principal findings: In a sample of 652 highly educated adults, the association between total brain volume, assessed with magnetic resonance imaging, and current number of self-reported ADHD symptoms was studied. The results showed an association between these self-reported ADHD symptoms and total brain volume. Post-hoc analysis revealed that the symptom domain of inattention had the strongest association with total brain volume. In addition, the threshold for impairment coincides with the threshold for brain volume reduction.

Conclusions/significance: This finding improves our understanding of the biological substrates of self-reported ADHD symptoms, and suggests total brain volume as a target intermediate phenotype for future gene-finding in ADHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / pathology*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Organ Size
  • Phenotype
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Self Report
  • Young Adult