Preparatory neural networks are impaired in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder during the antisaccade task

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Abstract

Adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often display executive function impairments, particularly in inhibitory control. The antisaccade task, which measures inhibitory control, requires one to suppress an automatic prosaccade toward a salient visual stimulus and voluntarily make an antisaccade in the opposite direction. ADHD patients not only have longer saccadic reaction times, but also make more direction errors (i.e., a prosaccade was executed toward the stimulus) during antisaccade trials. These deficits may stem from pathology in several brain areas that are important for executive control. Using functional MRI with a rapid event-related design, adults with combined subtype of ADHD (coexistence of attention and hyperactivity problems), who abstained from taking stimulant medication 20 h prior to experiment onset, and age-match controls performed pro- and antisaccade trials that were interleaved with pro- and anti-catch trials (i.e., instruction was presented but no target appeared, requiring no response). This method allowed us to examine brain activation patterns when participants either prepared (during instruction) or executed (after target appearance) correct pro or antisaccades. Behaviorally, ADHD adults displayed several antisaccade deficits, including longer and more variable reaction times and more direction errors, but saccade metrics (i.e., duration, velocity, and amplitude) were normal. When preparing to execute an antisaccade, ADHD adults showed less activation in frontal, supplementary, and parietal eye fields, compared to controls. However, activation in these areas was normal in the ADHD group during the execution of a correct antisaccade. Interestingly, unlike controls, adults with ADHD produced greater activation than controls in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during antisaccade execution, perhaps as part of compensatory mechanisms to optimize antisaccade production. Overall, these data suggest that the saccade deficits observed in adults with ADHD do not result from an inability to execute a correct antisaccade but rather the failure to properly prepare (i.e., form the appropriate task set) for the antisaccade trial. The data support the view that the executive impairments, including inhibitory control, in ADHD adults are related to poor response preparation. © 2012 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Hakvoort Schwerdtfeger, R. M., Alahyane, N., Brien, D. C., Coe, B. C., Stroman, P. W., & Munoz, D. P. (2013). Preparatory neural networks are impaired in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder during the antisaccade task. NeuroImage: Clinical, 2(1), 63–78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2012.10.006

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