Posterior alpha oscillations reflect attentional problems in boys with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Clin Neurophysiol. 2016 May;127(5):2182-91. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2016.01.021. Epub 2016 Feb 8.


Objective: This study aimed to characterize alpha modulations in children with ADHD in relation to their attentional performance.

Methods: The posterior alpha activity (8-12Hz) was measured in 30 typically developing children and 30 children with ADHD aged 7-10years, using EEG while they performed a visuospatial covert attention task. We focused the analyses on typically developing boys (N=9) and boys with ADHD (N=17).

Results: Alpha activity in typically developing boys was similar to previous results of healthy adults: it decreased in the hemisphere contralateral to the attended hemifield, whereas it relatively increased in the other hemisphere. However, in boys with ADHD this hemispheric lateralization in the alpha band was not obvious (group contrast, p=.018). A robust relation with behavioral performance was lacking in both groups.

Conclusions: The ability to modulate alpha oscillations in visual regions with the allocation of spatial attention was clearly present in typically developing boys, but not in boys with ADHD.

Significance: These results open up the possibility to further study the underlying mechanisms of ADHD by examining how differences in the fronto-striatal network might explain different abilities in modulating the alpha band activity.

Keywords: ADHD; Alpha inhibition; Attentional bias; Children; Covert attention; Electroencephalography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology