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It is well-known that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with changes in the dopaminergic system. However, the relationship between central dopaminergic tone and the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal during receipt of rewards and penalties in the corticostriatal pathway in adults with ADHD is unclear.
Single-photon emission computed tomography with [99mTC]TRODAT-1 was used to assess striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) availability. Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging was conducted on subjects performing the Iowa Gambling Test.
DAT availability was found to be associated with the BOLD response, which was a covariate of monetary loss, in the medial prefrontal cortex (r = 0.55, P = .03), right ventral striatum (r = 0.69, P = .003), and right orbital frontal cortex (r = 0.53, P = .03) in adults with ADHD. However, a similar correlation was not found in the controls.
The results confirmed that dopaminergic tone may play a different role in the penalty-elicited response of adults with ADHD. It is plausible that a lower neuro-threshold accompanied by insensitivity to punishment could be exacerbated by the hypodopaminergic tone in ADHD.
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