Segregating sustained attention from response inhibition in ADHD: An fMRI study

Soonjo Hwang, Harma Meffert, Ian Parsley, Patrick M. Tyler, Anna K. Erway, Mary L. Botkin, Kayla Pope, R. J.R. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: The functional significance of the impairment shown by patients with ADHD on response inhibition tasks is unclear. Dysfunctional behavioral and BOLD responses to rare no-go cues might reflect disruption of response inhibition (mediating withholding the response) or selective attention (identifying the rare cue). However, a factorial go/no-go design (involving high and low frequency go and no-go stimuli) can disentangle these possibilities. Methods: Eighty youths [22 female, mean age = 13.70 (SD = 2.21), mean IQ = 104.65 (SD = 13.00); 49 with diagnosed ADHD] completed the factorial go/no-go task while undergoing fMRI. Results: There was a significant response type-by-ADHD symptom severity interaction within the left anterior insula cortex; increasing ADHD symptom severity was associated with decreased recruitment of this region to no-go cues irrespective of cue frequency. There was also a significant frequency-by-ADHD symptom severity interaction within the left superior frontal gyrus. ADHD symptom severity showed a quadratic relationship with responsiveness to low frequency cues (irrespective of whether these cues were go or no-go); within this region, at lower levels of symptom severity, increasing severity was associated with increased BOLD responses but at higher levels of symptom severity, decreasing BOLD responses. Conclusion: The current study reveals two separable forms of dysfunction that together probably contribute to the impairments shown by patients with ADHD on go/no-go tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101677
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this

Hwang, S., Meffert, H., Parsley, I., Tyler, P. M., Erway, A. K., Botkin, M. L., ... Blair, R. J. R. (2019). Segregating sustained attention from response inhibition in ADHD: An fMRI study. NeuroImage: Clinical, 21, [101677].