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Neural Markers of ADHD Across Childhood

Brief Description

In this study, we are interested in how neuroimaging can improve the diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in young children.  In particular, we aim to investigate (1) how novel methods of EEG analysis might enable more accurate predictions of which children who exhibit ADHD symptoms before age 7 will remain diagnosed with ADHD after age 7; and (2) how the neural correlates of cognitive control, as measured by fMRI, differ between 5-7 year-olds with high and low levels of ADHD symptomatology, and how these neural markers might predict diagnostic status after age 7.

Eligibility for Participation

We apologize, we are not currently enrolling participants for this study.

Participation Details

This study involves one 2-hour visit to our EEG laboratory at Children's Hospital Boston, where we can provide a free parking spot.  Following this visit is a second session where children ages 5-7 can participate in the fMRI component of our study.  Children will be asked to participate in a short session in a few years so that we can look at stability and change in diagnostic status.  Each session is fun and children will receive rewards, snacks, and play time if they need a break.  Compensation up to $100 will also be provided to you for your time.

Research Contact

Jenna Synder (Sheridan Lab)

You may also reach us at 857-218-5228 or 

Full Description

Currently, 50% of children who are diagnosed with ADHD before the age of 7 will no longer have ADHD by the time they are 8. Most of these diagnoses are made using symptom checklists. Because brain development progresses rapidly between the ages of 3-7, which means behaviors can change dramatically as well, it may be the case that these checklists produce different results across this age range. In other words, they may not be the best tool for making a stable diagnosis in young children. In this study, we hope to use neuroimaging to better identify which children will continue on with a diagnosis of ADHD and which will not. 

Improving the accuracy of ADHD diagnosis in young children would allow doctors to better determine which children need treatment and which do not. A better understanding of what’s happening at the level of the brain may also help to determine which of the many treatment options available would work best for a child with ADHD. Furthermore, for the 50% of children who will not go on to have ADHD, we may be able to identify whether their behaviors are simply developmental or whether they come from other, unidentified issues that can then be treated appropriately.

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