Brain response to facial expressions in adults with adolescent ADHD

Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2019 Oct 30:292:54-61. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2019.09.003. Epub 2019 Sep 6.


The symptoms of ADHD tend to have continuity to adulthood even though the diagnostic criteria were no longer fulfilled. The aim of our study was to find out possible differences in BOLD signal in the face-processing network between adults with previous ADHD (pADHD, n = 23) and controls (n = 29) from the same birth cohort when viewing dynamic facial expressions. The brain imaging was performed using a General Electric Signa 1.5 Tesla HDX. Dynamic facial expression stimuli included happy and fearful expressions. The pADHD group demonstrated elevated activity in the left parietal area during fearful facial expression. The Network Based Statistics including multiple areas demonstrated higher functional connectivity in attention related network during visual exposure to happy faces in the pADHD group. Conclusions: We found differences in brain responses to facial emotional expressions in individuals with previous ADHD compared to control group in a number of brain regions including areas linked to processing of facial emotional expressions and attention. This might indicate that although these individuals no longer fulfill the ADHD diagnosis, they exhibit overactive network properties affecting facial processing.

Keywords: ADHD; Emotion recognition; Facial expressions; Keywords; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnostic imaging*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Facial Expression*
  • Fear / physiology
  • Fear / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Young Adult