Morphological abnormalities in prefrontal surface area and thalamic volume in attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
Psychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
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Although previous morphological studies have demonstrated abnormalities in prefrontal cortical thickness in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), studies investigating cortical surface area are lacking. As the development of cortical surface is closely linked to the establishment of thalam-ocortical connections, any abnormalities in the structure of the thalamus are likely to relate to altered cortical surface area. Using a clinically well-defined sample of children with ADHD (n=25, 1 female) and typically developing controls (n=24, 1 female), we studied surface area across the cortex to determine whether children with ADHD had reduced thalamic volume that related to prefrontal cortical surface area. Relative to controls, children with ADHD had a significant reduction in thalamic volume and dorsolateral prefrontal cortical area in both hemispheres. Furthermore, children with ADHD with smaller thalamic volumes were found to have greater reductions in surface area, a pattern not evident in the control children. Our results are further evidence of reduced lateral prefrontal cortical area in ADHD. Moreover, for the first time, we have also shown a direct association between thalamic anatomy and frontal anatomy in ADHD, suggesting the pathophysiological process that alters surface area maturation is likely to be linked to the development of the thalamus.