Subcortical brain volume, regional cortical thickness, and cortical surface area across disorders: Findings from the ENGMA ADHD, ASD, and OCD Working Groups

Premika S. W. Boedhoe, Daan Van Rooij, Martine Hoogman, Jos W Twisk, Lianne Schmaal, Yoshinari Abe, Pino Alonso, Stephanie H. Ameis, Anatoly Anikin, Alan Anticevic, Celso Arango, Paul D. Arnold, Philip J Asherson, Francesca Assogna, Guillaume Auzias, Tobias J. Banaschewski, Alexander Baranov, Marcelo Batistuzzo, Sarah Baumeister, Ramona Baur-StreubelMarlene Behrmann, Mark A. Bellgrove, Francesco Benedetti, Jan C. Beucke, Joseph Biederman, Irene Bollettini, the ENIGMA ADHD Working Group, the ENIGMA ASD Working Group, the ENIGMA OCD Working Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are common neurodevelopmental disorders that frequently co-occur. The authors sought to directly compare these disorders using structural brain imaging data from ENIGMA consortium data.

Structural T1-weighted whole-brain MRI data from healthy control subjects (N=5,827) and from patients with ADHD (N=2,271), ASD (N=1,777), and OCD (N=2,323) from 151 cohorts worldwide were analyzed using standardized processing protocols. The authors examined subcortical volume, cortical thickness, and cortical surface area differences within a mega-analytical framework, pooling measures extracted from each cohort. Analyses were performed separately for children, adolescents, and adults, using linear mixed-effects models adjusting for age, sex, and site (and intracranial volume for subcortical and surface area measures).

No shared differences were found among all three disorders, and shared differences between any two disorders did not survive correction for multiple comparisons. Children with ADHD compared with those with OCD had smaller hippocampal volumes, possibly influenced by IQ. Children and adolescents with ADHD also had smaller intracranial volume than control subjects and those with OCD or ASD. Adults with ASD showed thicker frontal cortices compared with adult control subjects and other clinical groups. No OCD-specific differences were observed across different age groups and surface area differences among all disorders in childhood and adulthood.

The study findings suggest robust but subtle differences across different age groups among ADHD, ASD, and OCD. ADHD-specific intracranial volume and hippocampal differences in children and adolescents, and ASD-specific cortical thickness differences in the frontal cortex in adults, support previous work emphasizing structural brain differences in these disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Jun 2020

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