Neuroimaging of response interference in twins concordant or discordant for inattention and hyperactivity symptoms

Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.36). 03/2009; 164(1):16-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.01.056
Source: PubMed


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is to a large extent influenced by genetic factors, but environmental influences are considered important as well. To distinguish between functional brain changes underlying primarily genetically and environmentally mediated ADHD, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare response interference in monozygotic twins highly concordant or discordant for attention problems (AP). AP scores were assessed longitudinally with the Child Behavior Check List attention problem scale (CBCL-AP). Response interference was measured during two executive function paradigms; a color-word Stroop and a flanker task. The neuroimaging results indicated that, across the entire sample, children with high CBCL-AP scores, relative to children with low CBCL-AP scores, showed decreased activation to response interference in dorsolateral prefrontal, parietal and temporal brain regions. Increased activation was noted in the premotor cortex and regions associated with visual selective attention processing, possibly reflecting compensatory mechanisms to maintain task performance. Specific comparisons of high and low scoring concordant twin pairs suggest that AP of genetic origin was characterized by decreased activation of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during the Stroop task and right parietal lobe during the flanker task. In contrast, comparison of twins from discordant monozygotic pairs, suggests that AP of environmental origin was characterized by decreased activation in left and right temporal lobe areas, but only during Stroop interference. The finding of distinct brain activation changes to response interference in inattention/hyperactivity of "genetic" versus "environmental" origin, indicates that genetic and environmental risk factors for attention/hyperactivity problems affect the brain in different ways.

Download full-text


Available from: Dirk J Veltman,
Show more