Age dependent electroencephalographic changes in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Clin Neurophysiol. 2014 Aug;125(8):1626-38. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2013.12.118. Epub 2014 Feb 2.


Objective: Objective biomarkers for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could improve diagnostics or treatment monitoring of this psychiatric disorder. The resting electroencephalogram (EEG) provides non-invasive spectral markers of brain function and development. Their accuracy as ADHD markers is increasingly questioned but may improve with pattern classification.

Methods: This study provides an integrated analysis of ADHD and developmental effects in children and adults using regression analysis and support vector machine classification of spectral resting (eyes-closed) EEG biomarkers in order to clarify their diagnostic value.

Results: ADHD effects on EEG strongly depend on age and frequency. We observed typical non-linear developmental decreases in delta and theta power for both ADHD and control groups. However, for ADHD adults we found a slowing in alpha frequency combined with a higher power in alpha-1 (8-10Hz) and beta (13-30Hz). Support vector machine classification of ADHD adults versus controls yielded a notable cross validated sensitivity of 67% and specificity of 83% using power and central frequency from all frequency bands. ADHD children were not classified convincingly with these markers.

Conclusions: Resting state electrophysiology is altered in ADHD, and these electrophysiological impairments persist into adulthood.

Significance: Spectral biomarkers may have both diagnostic and prognostic value.

Keywords: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Development; Electroencephalography; Eyes-closed resting-state; Linear regression; Support vector machine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Attention
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Rest / physiology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Support Vector Machine
  • Young Adult