A preliminary neuroimaging study of preschool children with ADHD

Ernest M Mahone, D. Crocetti, M. E. Ranta, A. Gaddis, M. Cataldo, K. J. Slifer, M. B. Denckla, S. H. Mostofsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder that, by current definition, has onset prior to age 7 years. MRI studies have provided some insight into brain differences associated with ADHD, but thus far have almost exclusively focused on children ages 7 years and older. To better understand the neurobiological development of ADHD, cortical and subcortical brain development should be systematically examined in younger children presenting with symptoms of the disorder. High-resolution anatomical (MPRAGE) images, acquired on a 3.0T scanner, were analyzed in a total of 26 preschoolers, ages 4-5 years (13 with ADHD, 13 controls, matched on age and sex). The ADHD sample was diagnosed using DSM-IV criteria, and screened for language disorders. Cortical regions were delineated and measured using automated methods in Freesurfer; basal ganglia structures were manually delineated. Children with ADHD showed significantly reduced caudate volumes bilaterally; in contrast there were no significant group differences in cortical volume or thickness in this age range. After controlling for age and total cerebral volume, left caudate volume was a significant predictor of hyperactive/impulsive, but not inattentive symptom severity. Anomalous basal ganglia, particularly caudate, development appears to play an important role among children presenting with early onset symptoms of ADHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1009-1028
Number of pages20
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • ADHD
  • Basal ganglia
  • Caudate
  • Cognitive
  • Cortical
  • Hyperactivity
  • MRI
  • Preschool
  • Striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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