ADHD - Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder


Child and Adolescent Psychopathology

ADHD – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by  persistent symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Children with ADHD have among other things problems in attending to cognitive tasks, sitting still and listening to others.

ADHD is often accompanied by various other symptoms or disorders. A main comorbidity of ADHD is the conduct disorder.


Children with ADHD often do not only suffer from their core symptoms (inattention, hyper-activity and impulsivity) but also have general limitations in terms of motor skills. Motor problems causing difficulties in handwriting, doing handicrafts and sport activities reduce their social participation and might have negative consequences on their self-esteem.

Well investigated treatments for this double burden are still missing. In our study we investigate and compare effects of different treatments (neurofeedback, medication, physical therapy and ADHD-specific parent training) on ADHD symptoms, attentional processes and motor skills in children with ADHD if they are impaired. Main methods are electroencepha-logram, magnet resonance imaging, motor tests and questionnaires.

The project is a cooperation between the research groups of Prof. Roessner and Prof. Beste (of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University Clinic C.G.C. Dresden) and the Universitäts-Physiotherapeuten Zentrum of the C. G. C. University Hospital of the Technische Universität Dresden.

Emotion and Learning

About 4% of all children and adolescents receive the diagnosis attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These children suffer from deficits in attention, motor agitation (hyperactivity) or impulsive behavior. More than 60% of those children and adolescents are additionally affected by a comorbid disorder, that often is  a conduct disorder (CD). This disorder is characterized by  repetitive and enduring patterns of dissocial, aggressive or defiant behavior. Although children with ADHD and/or CD experience negative consequences, they maintain dysfunctional behavior longer than healthy controls. Additionally those children    often wrongly assess social situations.  These characteristics lead to the assumption that the processing and regulation of emotions is disturbed and that learning from action-related consequences (reward, punishment) seems to be problematic as well. Often these difficulties result in serious disruptions of the interaction within the social environment. Neuroimaging studies indicate  a dysfunction within the meso-cortico-limbic system  underlying those diseases.

The aim of this study is to increase the knowledge  about the functioning of the meso-cortico-limbic system and the  pathology of ADHS and CD.  . In order to identify relevant processes of their pathogenesis we investigate and compare adolescents with only ADHD, only CD, ADHD and a comorbid CD as well as healthy controls.

The main questions are: Is the processing of emotions as well as reward learning disrupted in adolescents with ADHD and CD? If this is confirmed, how is it disrupted? What kind of functional changes underlie the diseases on a neural basis? What kind of structural changes underlie the diseases on a neural basis?