Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Niels ter Huurne (Donders sereis 364)

15 January 2019

Promotors: prof. dr. J. Buitelaar, prof. dr. O. Jensen (University of Birmingham, UK)

ADHD and the Alpha Rhythm. On the role of alpha oscillations in neural mechanisms underlying Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is behaviorally classified by having problems regulating attention (inattentiveness) and problems regulating motor actions (impulsivity and hyperactivity. The underlying pathophysiology of ADHD is far from clear, and is characterized by a heterogeneous pattern of structural and functional brain abnormalities, but theories on electrophysiological contributions are relatively underdeveloped. Ter Huurne explored a putative role for aberrant modulation of alpha oscillatory activity in ADHD, as alpha oscillations are crucial in inhibiting activity of task-irrelevant functional brain areas. Both in the attention domain and in the motor domain he found atypical and decreased modulation of alpha, with relatively low alpha activity in task-irrelevant brain areas. Reduced alpha activity was shown to be predictive of higher scores on ADHD reports. Ter Huurne concludes that failing modulation of alpha oscillation contributes to neural mechanisms underlying ADHD. These findings could result in the development of alpha as a biomarker for ADHD, promoting a biological classification approach of ADHD. Furthermore, it could contribute to improving and developing therapeutic interventions targeting alfa, like pharmaceutical and neurofeedback approaches.