Hyperactive/impulsive and inattention symptoms are associated with reduced ERP activity during different reward processing stages: Evidence from the electrophysiological Monetary Incentive Delay Task in adult ADHD

  1. Hanni Kiiski
  2. Zhipeng Cao
  3. Darren Roddy

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Description: Hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention are core symptoms dimensions in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Some approaches suggest that these symptoms arise from deficits in the ability to anticipate and process rewards. However, evidence is equivocal with regard to ADHD-related differences in brain activity during reward processing. The aim of this study was to investigate when, and how, reward-related ERP activity was associated with hyperactive/impulsive symptoms and inattention symptoms. Adults with ADHD (n=34) and matched comparison participants (n=36) completed an electrophysiological version of the Monetary Incentive Delay task. This task separates reward processing into two stages- namely, an anticipation stage and a delivery stage. During the anticipation stage, visual cues signalled a possible monetary incentive (i.e. a reward or loss). After a brief delay, the delivery stage began, and incentives were delivered contingent on a speeded button-press. Electroencephalogram activity was simultaneously sampled and incentive-related event relate potentials (ERPs) calculated. These data were then analysed by calculating multiple regression models, at each sample point, wherein the correlation between incentive-related ERPs and ADHD symptoms was estimated. Linear and curvilinear associations between ERP activity and ADHD symptoms were tested in each regression model. Findings suggest that ADHD symptoms were associated ERP activity at different reward processing stages. Hyperactive/impulsive symptoms were associated with reduced ERP activity during the initial anticipation of rewards from 224-329 ms post-reward cue. Inattention symptoms were associated with reduced ERP activity during the initial delivery of rewards from 251-280 ms post-reward onset. Finally, extreme ends of hyperactive/impulsive and inattention symptoms were associated with reduced ERP activity towards the end of the anticipation stage from 500 ms post-reward cue onwards. These results support the idea that reward processing is disrupted in ADHD while also shedding new light on the dynamic relationship between ADHD symptom dimensions and the neurological mechanisms of reward processing.


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