Quantitative brain magnetic resonance imaging in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1996 Jul;53(7):607-16. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1996.01830070053009.


Background: Anatomic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been limited by small samples or measurement of single brain regions. Since the neuropsychological deficits in ADHD implicate a network linking basal ganglia and frontal regions, 12 subcortical and cortical regions and their symmetries were measured to determine if these structures best distinguished ADHD.

Methods: Anatomic brain MRIs for 57 boys with ADHD and 55 healthy matched controls, aged 5 to 18 years, were obtained using a 1.5-T scanner with contiguous 2-mm sections. Volumetric measures of the cerebrum, caudate nucleus, putamen, globus pallidus, amygdala, hippocampus, temporal lobe, cerebellum; a measure of prefrontal cortex; and related right-left asymmetries were examined along with midsagittal area measures of the cerebellum and corpus callosum. Interrater reliabilities were .82 or greater for all MRI measures.

Results: Subjects with ADHD had a 4.7% smaller total cerebral volume (P = .02). Analysis of covariance for total cerebral volume demonstrated a significant loss of normal right > left asymmetry in the caudate (P = .006), smaller right globus pallidus (P = .005), smaller right anterior frontal region (P = .02), smaller cerebellum (P = .05), and reversal of normal lateral ventricular asymmetry (P = .03) in the ADHD group. The normal age-related decrease in caudate volume was not seen, and increases in lateral ventricular volumes were significantly diminished in ADHD.

Conclusion: This first comprehensive morphometric analysis is consistent with hypothesized dysfunction of right-sided prefrontal-striatal systems in ADHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Caudate Nucleus / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebellum / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Ventricles / anatomy & histology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Functional Laterality
  • Globus Pallidus / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology