Neuroimaging of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Current neuroscience-informed perspectives for clinicians

Samuele Cortese, F. Xavier Castellanos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The neuroimaging literature on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is growing rapidly. Here, we provide a critical overview of neuroimaging studies published recently, highlighting perspectives that may be of relevance for clinicians. After a comprehensive search of PubMed, Ovid, Web of Science, and EMBASE, we located 41 pertinent papers published between January 2011 and April 2012, comprising both structural and functional neuroimaging studies. This literature is increasingly contributing to the notion that the pathophysiology of ADHD reflects abnormal interplay among large-scale brain circuits. Moreover, recent studies have begun to reveal the mechanisms of action of pharmacological treatment. Finally, imaging studies with a developmental perspective are revealing the brain correlates of ADHD over the lifespan, complementing clinical observations on the phenotypic continuity and discontinuity of the disorder. However, despite the increasing potential to eventually inform clinical practice, current imaging studies do not have validated applications in day-to-day clinical practice. Although novel analytical techniques are likely to accelerate the pace of translational applications, at the present we advise caution regarding inappropriate commercial misuse of imaging techniques in ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-578
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Psychiatry Reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • ADHD
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Emotional processing
  • Emotional reactivity
  • MRI
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuroscience
  • Pathophysiologic mechanisms
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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