Brain abnormalities in adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder revealed by voxel-based morphometry

Ana Moreno-Alcázar, Josep A. Ramos-Quiroga, Joaquim Radua, José Salavert, Gloria Palomar, Rosa Bosch, Raymond Salvador, Josep Blanch, Miquel Casas, Peter J. McKenna, Edith Pomarol-Clotet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) commonly affects children, although the symptoms persist into adulthood in approximately 50% of cases. Structural imaging studies in children have documented both cortical and subcortical changes in the brain. However, there have been only a few studies in adults and the results are inconclusive. Method: Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was applied to 44 adults with ADHD, Combined subtype, aged 18-54 years and 44 healthy controls matched for age, sex and IQ. Results: ADHD patients showed reduced gray matter (GM) volume in the right supplementary motor area (SMA). Using more lenient thresholds we also observed reductions in the subgenual anterior cingulate (ACC) and right dorsolateral prefrontal (DLPFC) cortices and increases in the basal ganglia, specifically in the left caudate nucleus and putamen. There was a positive correlation between the cumulative stimulant dose and volume in the right SMA and DLPFC clusters. Conclusions: The findings suggest that adults with ADHD show brain structural changes in regions belonging to the so-called cool executive function network. Long-term stimulant medication may act to normalize these GM alterations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-47
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2016


  • ADHD
  • Anterior cingulate cortex
  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • Methylphenidate
  • Neuroimaging
  • Supplementary motor area
  • Voxel-based morphometry


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