OBJECTIVE: Objective biomarkers for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could improve diagnostics or treatment monitoring of this psychiatric disorder. The resting electroencephalogram (EEG) provides non-invasive spectral markers of brain function and development. Their accuracy as ADHD markers is increasingly questioned but may improve with pattern classification.
METHODS: This study provides an integrated analysis of ADHD and developmental effects in children and adults using regression analysis and support vector machine classification of spectral resting (eyes-closed) EEG biomarkers in order to clarify their diagnostic value.
RESULTS: ADHD effects on EEG strongly depend on age and frequency. We observed typical non-linear developmental decreases in delta and theta power for both ADHD and control groups. However, for ADHD adults we found a slowing in alpha frequency combined with a higher power in alpha-1 (8-10Hz) and beta (13-30Hz). Support vector machine classification of ADHD adults versus controls yielded a notable cross validated sensitivity of 67% and specificity of 83% using power and central frequency from all frequency bands. ADHD children were not classified convincingly with these markers.
CONCLUSIONS: Resting state electrophysiology is altered in ADHD, and these electrophysiological impairments persist into adulthood.
SIGNIFICANCE: Spectral biomarkers may have both diagnostic and prognostic value.