Previous studies have focused instead on certain regions or networks in the brain, which scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University and the University of Minnesota Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain believe risks overlooking aspects of the condition that can be detected by zooming out and viewing the bigger picture.
“By evaluating the cumulative effects of regions across the entire brain, we are now looking at ADHD as a whole-brain issue, which could make it easier to predict which kids have ADHD and how severe it may be,” said corresponding author Michael A. Mooney, assistant professor of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology in the OHSU School of Medicine.
In this study, the researchers used neuroimaging data of nearly 12,000 children aged nine and 10 in the Adolescent Brain Development Study, which mapped behavioral, social and brain development over a decade.
With this, they constructed a polyneuro risk score, to estimate the likelihood of an ADHD diagnosis based on connectivity across the entire brain.
Knowing the kind of connectivity issues associated with different ADHD symptoms, the researchers were able to provide a PNRS score based on the participants’ resting state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging data.
The higher the score, the greater the correlation between known ADHD brain activity.
What they found was that there was a significant correlation between score and ADHD diagnosis, when the whole brain was taken into account.
“This is exciting, because much of the prior research has focused on individual regions of the brain, but our study was seeing that this isn’t the case across the board,” Mooney said.
“In fact, there is signal from all areas of the brain that are contributing to the risk of ADHD.”.
They also hope it could help researchers zoom out to instead look at how connectivity across the brain could provide a basis for better treatment.