Cortical thinning of the attention and executive function networks in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Nikos Makris, Joseph Biederman, Eve M. Valera, George Bush, Jonathan Kaiser, David N. Kennedy, Verne S. Caviness, Stephen V. Faraone, Larry J. Seidman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

352 Scopus citations


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been associated with structural alterations in brain networks influencing cognitive and motor behaviors. Volumetric studies in children identify abnormalities in cortical, striatal, callosal, and cerebellar regions. In a prior volumetric study, we found that ADHD adults had significantly smaller overall cortical gray matter, prefrontal, and anterior cingulate volumes than matched controls. Thickness and surface area are additional indicators of integrity of cytoarchitecture in the cortex. To expand upon our earlier results and further refine the regions of structural abnormality, we carried out a structural magnetic resonance imaging study of cortical thickness in the same sample of adults with ADHD (n = 24) and controls (n = 18), hypothesizing that the cortical networks underlying attention and executive function (EF) would be most affected. Compared with healthy adults, adults with ADHD showed selective thinning of cerebral cortex in the networks that subserve attention and EF. In the present study, we found significant cortical thinning in ADHD in a distinct cortical network supporting attention especially in the right hemisphere involving the inferior parietal lobule, the dorsolateral prefrontal, and the anterior cingulate cortices. This is the first documentation that ADHD in adults is associated with thinner cortex in the cortical networks that modulate attention and EF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1364-1375
Number of pages12
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • ADHD
  • Attention
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Cortical thickness
  • Executive function


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