ADHD and the brain

I am leading two projects to improve our understanding of the ADHD brain. The first is the international collaborative called ENIGMA-ADHD. The other project is the IMpACT project, al local project dedicated to collecting multi-level data (cognition, genetics, microbiom, behavior and neuroimaging) in a sample of adults with ADHD and controls.


Many neuroimaging studies in ADHD have been published, each with its own contribution to science. However, brain imaging studies are expensive and therefore the sample size of studies is often small. Also, a wide variety of methods are used, which makes it difficult to compare studies. This all results in inconsistent findings and still many uncertainties about the neurobiology of ADHD. To enigma_300dpiaddress these issues we founded the ENIGMA-ADHD consortium. Here, over a 100 of experts in the field are united to share their expertise and their data. This way we can reanalyze existing data in large meta-and mega-analyses to try to get as close as possible to finding true effects in the brain. Our first paper is published in The Lancet Psychiatry and received a lot of press.


Displayed above are the collaborating sites; 41 in total with brain data of over 4500 subjects (individuals with ADHD and healthy controls).

Current projects:

  • Subcortical volume analysis (Martine Hoogman, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands). Complete: Manuscript published in the Lancet Psychiatry, Febr, 2017.
  • Anatomy of the cerebellum (Philip Shaw, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, USA). Completed: Publised in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Oct 2018.
  • Brain imaging of the cortex in ADHD (Martine Hoogman). Complete: Manuscript published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, July 2019.
  • ENIGMA cross-disorder project (Premika Boedhoe. Daan van Rooij, Martine Hoogman). Published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 2020.
  • Virtual Histology (Tomas Paus, Yash Patel, University of Toronto). Manuscript published in JAMA Psychiatry, Aug, 2020.
  • Evidence for similar structural brain anomalies in youth and adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a machine learning analysis (Yanli Zhang-James & Steve Faraone). Manuscript published in Translational Psychiatry, 2021
  • Brain Laterality in ADHD (Merel Postema, Clyde Francks, MPI, Nijmegen). Manuscript accepted for publication in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2021.
  • Characterizing heterogeneity of children with ADHD based on brain volume by using community detection (Ting Li, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands). Manuscript accepted for publication in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2021
  • DTI (Martine Hoogman, Kathy Lawrence, Emma Sprooten) – Radboud University Medical Center). Ongoing – data inclusion is still open.
  • Identification of individuals at risk for psychopathology in a population sample (Thomas Wolfers, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands). Ongoing
  • Using Autoencoder Pretraining to boost performance and generalizability of Predictive Models to discriminate ADHD Cases and Controls  (Tim Hahn, University of Frankfurt, Germany). Ongoing

Together with the ENIGMA-ASD consortium, we wrote an article summarizing all our work for the special issue of Human Brain Mapping, celebrating 10 years of ENIGMA work. Hoogman, van Rooij, ….Buitelaar, Franke (2020). Consortium neuroscience of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder: The ENIGMA adventure. Human Brain Mapping, may 2020.


IMpACT2 is an updated project and started as IMpACT1 in 2007. The aim of both IMpACT1&2 is to better understand adult ADHD. We do this by studying behavior, cognition, brain structure/functioning and genetics to learn more about the disorder. Our local IMpACT projects are embedded within the international IMpACT collaboration.

PhD student Babette Jakobi is working with the IMpACT2 data to unravel the neurobiology underlying emotion disregulation in adults with ADHD. Her work was awarded with a poster prize at the 2021 American Professional Society of ADHD and related disorders (APSARD) meeting.

Master student (medicine) Abel Schoonderwaldt used the IMpACT data to study the relationship between one aspect of creativity, divergent thinking, and one of the well known cognitive deficits of ADHD: response inhibition. This to find out if certain proposed positive aspects of ADHD are linked to one of the deficits. In future studies we will also look into which brain regions/networks are involved in this process.