Longitudinal changes of ADHD symptoms in association with white matter microstructure: A tract-specific fixel-based analysis

Christienne G. Damatac, Sourena Soheili-Nezhad, Guilherme Blazquez Freches, Marcel P. Zwiers, Sanne de Bruijn, Seyma Ikde, Christel M. Portengen, Amy C. Abelmann, Janneke T. Dammers, Daan van Rooij, Sophie E.A. Akkermans, Jilly Naaijen, Barbara Franke, Jan K. Buitelaar, Christian F. Beckmann, Emma Sprooten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Variation in the longitudinal course of childhood attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) coincides with neurodevelopmental maturation of brain structure and function. Prior work has attempted to determine how alterations in white matter (WM) relate to changes in symptom severity, but much of that work has been done in smaller cross-sectional samples using voxel-based analyses. Using standard diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) methods, we previously showed WM alterations were associated with ADHD symptom remission over time in a longitudinal sample of probands, siblings, and unaffected individuals. Here, we extend this work by further assessing the nature of these changes in WM microstructure by including an additional follow-up measurement (aged 18 – 34 years), and using the more physiologically informative fixel-based analysis (FBA). Methods: Data were obtained from 139 participants over 3 clinical and 2 follow-up DWI waves, and analyzed using FBA in regions-of-interest based on prior findings. We replicated previously reported significant models and extended them by adding another time-point, testing whether changes in combined ADHD and hyperactivity-impulsivity (HI) continuous symptom scores are associated with fixel metrics at follow-up. Results: Clinical improvement in HI symptoms over time was associated with more fiber density at follow-up in the left corticospinal tract (lCST) (tmax = 1.092, standardized effect[SE] = 0.044, pFWE = 0.016). Improvement in combined ADHD symptoms over time was associated with more fiber cross-section at follow-up in the lCST (tmax = 3.775, SE = 0.051, pFWE = 0.019). Conclusions: Aberrant white matter development involves both lCST micro- and macrostructural alterations, and its path may be moderated by preceding symptom trajectory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103057
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Diffusion imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Microstructure
  • White matter


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