BACKGROUND: Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in self-controlling attention, behavior, and emotions. In recent years, noninvasive optical techniques, such as near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), have been used to measure the neural correlates of pharmacological-therapy outcomes in children and adolescents with ADHD.
METHODS: We reviewed a short series of articles that investigated the results of functional NIRS (fNIRS) on developmental-age ADHD. The review was limited to fNIRS studies that investigated the cortical responses that occurred during neuropsychological tasks in ADHD patients who received methylphenidate or atomoxetine.
RESULTS: The majority of the reviewed studies revealed the presence of increased oxygenated hemoglobin concentrations in the prefrontal cortex following pharmacotherapy in ADHD samples. A higher frequency of right-lateralized results was found.
LIMITATIONS: The considered studies are characterized by substantial methodological heterogeneity in terms of the patients' medication status and washout period, explored cerebral regions, and neuropsychological tasks.
CONCLUSIONS: fNIRS seems to be a promising tool for the detection of pharmacological-treatment biomarkers in samples of children and adolescents with ADHD.