Reduced GABA concentration in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;69(7):750-3. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.2280.


Context: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder characterized by a deficit in behavioral inhibition. Recent evidence also suggests a deficit in cortical inhibition via the GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid)-ergic system.

Objective: To investigate the GABAergic component of ADHD using magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Participants were recruited through local schools, local pediatric and other community clinics, and through advertisement in regional publications. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy was performed within the research institute.

Participants: Children (age range, 8-12 years) in a typically developing control group vs a group with ADHD were compared.

Main outcome measures: J-difference-edited magnetic resonance spectroscopy at 3 T was used to measure GABA concentration in a volume that included primary somatosensory and motor cortices.

Results: GABA concentration is reduced in children with ADHD compared with typically developing control subjects.

Conclusion: Our finding of reduced GABA concentration in ADHD is concordant with recently reported deficits in short intracortical inhibition in ADHD and suggests a GABAergic deficit in ADHD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid