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Mind Wandering Perspective on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder


Mind Wandering Perspective on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Natali S Bozhilova et al. Neurosci Biobehav Rev.


Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder associated with a range of mental health, neurocognitive and functional problems. Although the diagnosis is based on descriptions of behaviour, individuals with ADHD characteristically describe excessive spontaneous mind wandering (MW). MW in individuals with ADHD reflects constant mental activity which lacks topic stability and content consistency. Based on this review of the neural correlates of ADHD and MW, we outline a new perspective on ADHD: the MW hypothesis. We propose that altered deactivation of the default mode network, and dysfunctional interaction with the executive control network, leads to excessive and spontaneous MW, which underpins symptoms and impairments of ADHD. We highlight that processes linked to the normal neural regulation of MW (context regulation, sensory decoupling, salience thresholds) are deficient in ADHD. MW-related measures could serve as markers of the disease process, as MW can be experimentally manipulated, as well as measured using rating scales, and experience sampling during both cognitive tasks and daily life. MW may therefore be a potential endophenotype.

Keywords: ADHD; Default mode network; Executive control network; Mind wandering; Theory.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Visualisation of the linear relationship between neural activity, mind wandering (MW), inattentive symptoms and attentional lapses in the MW hypothesis. The top, central image represents the three neural networks underlying excessive and spontaneous mind wandering in ADHD. The key hubs of the default mode network are the posterior cingulate cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, associated with active mind wandering. The central executive network includes dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and posterior parietal cortex, which are active during cognitively demanding tasks and serve as a marker of task focus. The salience network involves the anterior cingulate cortex, and anterior insula, linked to the regulation of the interaction between the default mode and central executive network. The bottom, left image represents inattentive symptoms in ADHD. The bottom, right image represents the greater variability in the distribution of reaction time scores in ADHD.

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