Future directions in the neurobiological understanding of ADHD: the ENIGMA Consortium

Understanding of the neurobiological correlates of ADHD may be further enhanced through the work of the Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium, a collaborative network of researchers working together to analyse neuroimaging data from 70 institutions around the world.

A recent report has published the latest findings and future directions of ENIGMA studies, of which some are specifically related to ADHD. ENIGMA studies have analysed data from over 12,826 subjects, with a unified goal to bring together researchers with genome-wide images and data to build a comprehensive understanding of the brain that no individual site could investigate alone.

There are several ENIGMA disease working groups, who assess the impact of genetic variants on the brain and behaviour in specific diseases; one such group is currently being formed for ADHD, which will analyse data from >1500 children and adults with the disorder and >2000 controls. Although ENIGMA researchers acknowledge that these data are likely to be heterogeneous in terms of duration of illness, disease aetiology, medication history, demographics, exposure to neuroprotective substances and many other factors, they also suggest that this will provide the opportunity to assess which of these factors are likely to affect disease expression in the brain with a sample size of sufficient power.

Eventually, ENIGMA researchers hope to conduct cross-disorder meta-analyses on representative datasets from a range of psychiatric disorders, including ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction, to identify common and distinctive patterns of brain morphometry with potential implications for diagnostic criteria.

Read more about the current progress and potential future directions of the ENIGMA consortium, including potential benefits to the understanding of ADHD, here


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  1. Thompson PM, Stein JL, Medland SE et al. The ENIGMA Consortium: large-scale collaborative analyses and neuroimaging and genetic data. Brain Imaging Behav 2014; 8(2): 153-182.

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