Context Functional magnetic resonance imaging studies in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) revealed fronto-striato-parietal dysfunctions during tasks of inhibition and attention. However, it is unclear whether task-dissociated dysfunctions exist and to what extent they may be influenced by age and by long-term stimulant medication use.
Objective To conduct a meta-analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging studies in ADHD during inhibition and attention tasks, exploring age and long-term stimulant medication use effects.
Data Sources PubMed, ScienceDirect, Web of Knowledge, Google Scholar, and Scopus databases were searched up to May 2012 for meta-analyses. Meta-regression methods explored age and long-term stimulant medication use effects.
Study Selection Twenty-one data sets were included for inhibition (287 patients with ADHD and 320 control subjects), and 13 data sets were included for attention (171 patients with ADHD and 178 control subjects).
Data Extraction Peak coordinates of clusters of significant group differences, as well as demographic, clinical, and methodological variables, were extracted for each study or were obtained from the authors.
Data Synthesis Patients with ADHD relative to controls showed reduced activation for inhibition in the right inferior frontal cortex, supplementary motor area, and anterior cingulate cortex, as well as striato-thalamic areas, and showed reduced activation for attention in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, posterior basal ganglia, and thalamic and parietal regions. Furthermore, the meta-regression analysis for the attention domain showed that long-term stimulant medication use was associated with more similar right caudate activation relative to controls. Age effects could be analyzed only for the inhibition meta-analysis, showing that the supplementary motor area and basal ganglia were underactivated solely in children with ADHD relative to controls, while the inferior frontal cortex and thalamus were underactivated solely in adults with ADHD relative to controls.
Conclusions Patients with ADHD have consistent functional abnormalities in 2 distinct domain-dissociated right hemispheric fronto-basal ganglia networks, including the inferior frontal cortex, supplementary motor area, and anterior cingulate cortex for inhibition and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, parietal, and cerebellar areas for attention. Furthermore, preliminary evidence suggests that long-term stimulant medication use may be associated with more normal activation in right caudate during the attention domain.