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In Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry

AIMS : Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often present with deficits in fine motor control. The cortico-spinal tract (CST) is critical for voluntary motor control. Although neuroimaging work has identified anomalous microstructural properties in the CST in ADHD, no study to date has attempted to investigate the link between deficits in fine motor performance and microstructural properties of the CST in children with ADHD. This study aimed to address this gap using a novel fixel-based analysis (FBA).

METHODS : Participants were 50 right-handed medication naïve children with a history of ADHD and 56 non-ADHD controls aged 9-11 years. Fine motor control was assessed using the Grooved Pegboard task. Children underwent high angular resolution diffusion MRI. Following pre-processing, FBA was performed and the semi-automated deep-learning TractSeg was used to delineate the CST bilaterally. Fibre density (FD), fibre cross-section (FC-log), and fibre density/cross-section (FDC) were extracted for each tract.

RESULTS : Children with ADHD performed significantly worse than non-ADHD children on the Grooved Pegboard task when using their non-dominant hand. They also demonstrated widespread significantly lower diffusion metrics in both CSTs compared to non-ADHD controls. However, no correlations were observed between Grooved Pegboard performance and diffusion metrics for the CST in either hemisphere.

CONCLUSIONS : While we failed to detect a significant relationship between fine motor skill and FBA metrics in either group, this paper extends previous work by showing that children with ADHD and reduced fine motor competence demonstrate atypical microstructure within the CST relative to non-ADHD controls.

Hyde Christian, Fuelscher Ian, Sciberras Emma, Efron Daryl, Anderson Vicki A, Silk Tim


ADHD, Corticospinal tract, Fine motor skill, Fixel-based analysis, White matter