Thalamic shape and connectivity abnormalities in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder

by Xia et al

Abstract

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by widespread structural and functional abnormalities in the cortico-striato-thalmo-cortical (CSTC) loops that subserve attention and executive functions. In this study, we analyzed thalamic shape and its white matter connections using structural MRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data acquired from children with ADHD (n=19) and controls (n=19). Shape morphology of the thalamus was assessed using shape-based analysis, while connectivity between the thalamus and other brain regions was determined using probabilistic diffusion tractography. Shape-based analysis indicated significant regional atrophy in the left thalamus in children with ADHD compared to controls. Group analyses of white matter connectivity measures showed significantly decreased mean fractional anisotropy (FA) and volume of the tracts between thalamus and striatum, hippocampus, and prefrontal lobe in children with ADHD compared to controls. The structural abnormalities within the thalamus and the reduced integrity of the white matter tracks between thalamus and other brain regions, as shown from the results of this study, may be the anatomical bases of the impaired cognitive performances in the attention and executive function domains in ADHD.