Beneath the surface: hyper-connectivity between caudate and salience regions in ADHD fMRI at rest.


Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) comprises disturbances in attention, emotional regulation, and reward-related processes. In spite of the active efforts in researching neurofunctional correlates of these symptoms, how the activity of subcortical regions-such as basal ganglia-is related to ADHD has yet to be clarified. More specifically, how age may influence the critical changes observed in functional dynamics from childhood to adulthood remains relatively unexplored. We hence selected five core subcortical regions (amygdala, caudate, putamen, pallidum and hippocampus) as regions of interest from the previous literature, measuring their whole-brain voxel-wise rsFC in a sample of 95 ADHD and 90 neurotypical children and adolescents aged from 7 to 18. The only subcortical structure showing significant differences in rsFC was the caudate nucleus. Specifically, we measured increased rsFC with anterior cingulate and right insula, two mesolimbic regions pertaining to the Salience Network. The degree of hyper-rsFC positively correlated with ADHD symptomatology, and showed different patterns of evolution in ADHD vs neurotypical subjects. Finally, the rsFC scores allowed a fair discrimination of the ADHD group (Area Under the Curve ≥ 0.7). These findings shed further light on the fundamental role covered by subcortical structures in ADHD pathogenesis and neurodevelopment, providing new evidence to fill the gap between neurofunctional and clinical expressions of ADHD.

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