Characterizing heterogeneity in children with and without ADHD based on reward system connectivity.


One potential obstacle limiting our ability to clarify ADHD etiology is the heterogeneity within the disorder, as well as in typical samples. In this study, we utilized a community detection approach on 106 children with and without ADHD (aged 7-12 years), in order to identify potential subgroups of participants based on the connectivity of the reward system. Children with ADHD were compared to typically developing children within each identified community, aiming to find the community-specific ADHD characteristics. Furthermore, to assess how the organization in subgroups relates to behavior, we evaluated delay-discounting gradient and impulsivity-related temperament traits within each community. We found that discrete subgroups were identified that characterized distinct connectivity profiles in the reward system. Importantly, which connections were atypical in ADHD relative to the control children were specific to the community membership. Our findings showed that children with ADHD and typically developing children could be classified into distinct subgroups according to brain functional connectivity. Results also suggested that the differentiation in ‘functional’ subgroups is related to specific behavioral characteristics, in this case impulsivity. Thus, combining neuroimaging data and community detection might be a valuable approach to elucidate heterogeneity in ADHD etiology and examine ADHD neurobiology.