Resting-state brain signal variability in prefrontal cortex is associated with ADHD symptom severity in children

Jason S. Nomi, Elana Schettini, Willa Voorhies, Taylor S. Bolt, Aaron S. Heller, Lucina Q. Uddin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Atypical brain function in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been identified using both task-activation and functional connectivity fMRI approaches. Recent work highlights the potential for another measure derived from functional neuroimaging data, brain signal variability, to reveal insights into clinical conditions. Higher brain signal variability has previously been linked with optimal behavioral performance. At present, little is known regarding the relationship between resting-state brain signal variability and ADHD symptom severity. The current study examined the relationship between a measure of moment-to-moment brain signal variability called mean-square successive difference (MSSD) and ADHD symptomatology in a group of children (7-12 years old) with (n = 40) and without (n = 30) a formal diagnosis of ADHD. A categorical analysis comparing subjects with and without a clinical diagnosis of ADHD showed no differences in MSSD between groups. A dimensional analysis revealed a positive relationship between MSSD and overall ADHD symptom severity and inattention across children with and without an ADHD diagnosis. Specifically, this positive relationship was found in medial prefrontal areas comprising the default mode network. These results demonstrate a link between intrinsic brain signal variability and ADHD symptom severity that cuts across diagnostic categories, and point to a locus of dysfunction consistent with previous neuroimaging literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number90
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
StatePublished - Mar 12 2018


  • ADHD
  • Brain signal variability
  • MSSD
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Resting-state fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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