Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD) are common behavioural disorders in childhood and adolescence and are associated with brain abnormalities. This systematic review and meta-analysis investigates structural (sMRI) and functional MRI (fMRI) findings in individuals with ODD/CD with and without attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Online databases were searched for controlled studies, resulting in 12 sMRI and 17 fMRI studies. In line with current models on ODD/CD, studies were classified in hot and cool executive functioning (EF). Both the meta-analytic and narrative reviews showed evidence of smaller brain structures and lower brain activity in individuals with ODD/CD in mainly hot EF-related areas: bilateral amygdala, bilateral insula, right striatum, left medial/superior frontal gyrus, and left precuneus. Evidence was present in both structural and functional studies, and irrespective of the presence of ADHD comorbidity. There is strong evidence that abnormalities in the amygdala are specific for ODD/CD as compared to ADHD, and correlational studies further support the association between abnormalities in the amygdala and ODD/CD symptoms. Besides the left precuneus, there was no evidence for abnormalities in typical cool EF related structures, such as the cerebellum and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Resulting areas are associated with emotion-processing, error-monitoring, problem-solving and self-control; areas associated with neurocognitive and behavioural deficits implicated in ODD/CD. Our findings confirm the involvement of hot, and to a smaller extent cool, EF associated brain areas in ODD/CD, and support an integrated model for ODD/CD (e.g. Blair, Development and Psychopathology, 17(3), 865-891, 2005).
Keywords: ADHD; ALE meta-analysis; CD; Functional MRI; ODD; Structural MRI.