Gray matter networks associated with attention and working memory deficit in ADHD across adolescence and adulthood

Transl Psychiatry. 2021 Mar 25;11(1):184. doi: 10.1038/s41398-021-01301-1.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a childhood-onset neuropsychiatric disorder and may persist into adulthood. Working memory and attention deficits have been reported to persist from childhood to adulthood. How neuronal underpinnings of deficits differ across adolescence and adulthood is not clear. In this study, we investigated gray matter of two cohorts, 486 adults and 508 adolescents, each including participants from ADHD and healthy controls families. Two cohorts both presented significant attention and working memory deficits in individuals with ADHD. Independent component analysis was applied to the gray matter of each cohort, separately, to extract cohort-inherent networks. Then, we identified gray matter networks associated with inattention or working memory in each cohort, and projected them onto the other cohort for comparison. Two components in the inferior, middle/superior frontal regions identified in adults and one component in the insula and inferior frontal region identified in adolescents were significantly associated with working memory in both cohorts. One component in bilateral cerebellar tonsil and culmen identified in adults and one component in left cerebellar region identified in adolescents were significantly associated with inattention in both cohorts. All these components presented a significant or nominal level of gray matter reduction for ADHD participants in adolescents, but only one showed nominal reduction in adults. Our findings suggest although the gray matter reduction of these regions may not be indicative of persistency of ADHD, their persistent associations with inattention or working memory indicate an important role of these regions in the mechanism of persistence or remission of the disorder.

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
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Memory Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Young Adult