Reduced striatal GABA in unmedicated children with ADHD at 7T

Nicolaas A. Puts, Matthew Ryan, Georg Oeltzschner, Alena Horska, Richard A.E. Edden, E. Mark Mahone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) is characterized by inattention and increased impulsive and hypermotoric behaviors.Despite the high prevalence and impact of ADHD, little is known about the underlying neurophysiology of ADHD. The main inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate are receiving increased attention in ADHD and can be measured using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS). However, MRS studies in ADHD are limited. We measured GABA and glutamate in young unmedicated participants, utilizing high magnetic field strength. Fifty unmedicated children (26 with ADHD, 24 controls) aged 5–9 years completed MRS at 7T and behavioral testing. GABA and glutamate were measured in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), premotor cortex (PMC), and striatum, and estimated using LCModel. Children with ADHD showed poorer inhibitory control and significantly reduced GABA/Cr in the striatum, but not in ACC, DLPFC, or PMC regions. There were no significant group differences for Glu/Cr levels, or correlations with behavioral manifestations of ADHD. The primary finding of this study is a reduction of striatal GABA levels in unmedicated children with ADHD at 7T. These findings provide guidance for future studies or interventions. Reduced striatal GABA may be a marker for specific GABA-related treatment for ADHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111082
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
StatePublished - Jul 30 2020


  • ADHD
  • GABA
  • Glutamate
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Neuroimaging
  • Ultra-high field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)


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