Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex hyperactivity during inhibitory control in children with ADHD in the antisaccade task

Abstract

Children with ADHD show significant deficits in response inhibition. A leading hypothesis suggests prefrontal hypoactivation as a possible cause, though, there is conflicting evidence. We tested the hypoactivation hypothesis by analyzing the response inhibition process within the oculomotor system. Twenty-two children diagnosed with ADHD and twenty control (CTRL) children performed the antisaccade task while undergoing an fMRI study with concurrent eye tracking. This task included a preparatory stage that cued a prosaccade (toward a stimuli) or an antisaccade (away from a stimuli) without an actual presentation of a peripheral target. This allowed testing inhibitory control without the confounding activation from an actual response. The ADHD group showed longer reaction times and more antisaccade direction errors. While both groups showed activations in saccade network areas, the ADHD showed significant hyperactivation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during the preparatory stage. No other areas in the saccade network had significant activation differences between groups. Further ADHD group analysis OFF and ON stimulant medication did not show drug-related activation differences. However, they showed a significant correlation between the difference in OFF/ON preparatory activation in the precuneus, and a decrease in the number of antisaccade errors. These results do not support the hypoactivity hypothesis as an inhibitory control deficit general explanation, but instead suggest less efficiency during the inhibitory period of the antisaccade task in children. Our findings contrast with previous results in ADHD adults showing decreased preparatory antisaccade activity, suggesting a significant age-dependent maturation effect associated to the inhibitory response in the oculomotor system.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research Operating Grant FDN 148418 to D. P. M., who was also supported by the Canada Research Chair Program 950-230425.

Funding

This work was supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research Operating Grant FDN 148418 to D. P. M., who was also supported by the Canada Research Chair Program 950–230,425.

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Correspondence to Juan Fernandez-Ruiz.

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All experiments were approved by the Health Sciences and Affiliated Teaching Hospitals Research and Ethics Board of Queen’s University and in accordance with the principles of the Canadian Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS-22014) on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, and the Declaration of Helsinki (World Medical Association., 2001).

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Fernandez-Ruiz, J., Hakvoort Schwerdtfeger, R.M., Alahyane, N. et al. Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex hyperactivity during inhibitory control in children with ADHD in the antisaccade task. Brain Imaging and Behavior 14, 2450–2463 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11682-019-00196-3

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Keywords

  • ADHD
  • Antisaccades
  • Precuneus
  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • Methylphenidate
  • Childhood