Background Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by deficits in reward sensitivity and response inhibition. The relative contribution of these frontostriatal mechanisms to ADHD symptoms and their genetic determinants is largely unexplored. Methods Using functional magnetic resonance imaging and genetic analysis of the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene, we investigated how striatal and inferior frontal activation patterns contribute to ADHD symptoms depending on MAOA genotype in a sample of adolescent boys (n = 190). Results We demonstrate an association of ADHD symptoms with distinct blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) responses depending on MAOA genotype. In A hemizygotes of the expression single nucleotide polymorphism rs12843268, which express lower levels of MAOA, ADHD symptoms are associated with lower ventral striatal BOLD response during the monetary incentive delay task and lower inferior frontal gyrus BOLD response during the stop signal task. In G hemizygotes, ADHD symptoms are associated with increased inferior frontal gyrus BOLD response during the stop signal task in the presence of increased ventral striatal BOLD response during the monetary incentive delay task. Conclusions Depending on MAOA genotype, ADHD symptoms in adolescent boys are associated with either reward deficiency or insufficient response inhibition. Apart from its mechanistic interest, our finding may aid in developing pharmacogenetic markers for ADHD. © 2013 Society of Biological Psychiatry.
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