ADHD in Preschool Girls: Longitudinal Analysis of Neuroimaging and Behavior

Principal Investigator: Mark Mahone

The overall goal of this project is to characterize the anomalous early development (brain, cognition, and behavior) of girls who present with the behavioral features of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the preschool years, in order to better understand the risk factors, and neurodevelopmental pathways to behavioral dysfunction observed in school-aged children with ADHD. It is well established that girls and boys have different trajectories of brain development. Given that girls’ brains mature as much as 1-2 years earlier in frontal regions identified as anomalous in boys with ADHD, it is necessary to examine brain development longitudinally in younger children to fully appreciate the nature of ADHD in girls. Further, by adolescence, both boys and girls with ADHD manifest differences in response preparation (RP), inhibitory control (IC), and working memory (WM), relative to age-and gender-matched controls, although the magnitude of the relative deficits is greater in boys and easier to characterize. Since girls may have “aged out” of some of these deficits by the end of elementary school years, it is necessary to study younger girls with ADHD in order to fully characterize their unique pattern of behavioral dysfunction.

Using a longitudinal design in a mixed model of neuroimaging (anatomic MRI, diffusion tensor imaging) and behavioral variables, we will delineate and contrast the growth curves (from ages 4 to 6 or 5 to 7years) of girls at risk for ADHD with those of age-matched typically developing girls using. Contemporaneously, we will recruit and follow longitudinally (also from 4 to 6 years or 5 to 7) a matched sample of preschool boys at risk for ADHD whose growth curves will be compared with age-matched typically developing boys. This project design will allow for the description and comparison of the different trajectories of early development (brain, cognition, behavior) in boys and girls with the behavioral phenotype of ADHD.

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If you or someone you know is interested in participating in this study, please download this informational flyer.