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Functional neuroimaging of visuospatial working memory tasks enables accurate detection of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder


Hammer RRubi , Cooke GEGillian E , Stein MAMark A , Booth JRJames R . NeuroImage. Clinical. 2015 09 01; 9(). 244-52


Finding neurobiological markers for neurodevelopmental disorders, such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is a major objective of clinicians and neuroscientists. We examined if functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) data from a few distinct visuospatial working memory (VSWM) tasks enables accurately detecting cases with ADHD. We tested 20 boys with ADHD combined type and 20 typically developed (TD) boys in four VSWM tasks that differed in feedback availability (feedback, no-feedback) and reward size (large, small). We used a multimodal analysis based on brain activity in 16 regions of interest, significantly activated or deactivated in the four VSWM tasks (based on the entire participants’ sample). Dimensionality of the data was reduced into 10 principal components that were used as the input variables to a logistic regression classifier. fMRI data from the four VSWM tasks enabled a classification accuracy of 92.5%, with high predicted ADHD probability values for most clinical cases, and low predicted ADHD probabilities for most TDs. This accuracy level was higher than those achieved by using the fMRI data of any single task, or the respective behavioral data. This indicates that task-based fMRI data acquired while participants perform a few distinct VSWM tasks enables improved detection of clinical cases.