Effect of Methylphenidate on Resting-State Connectivity in Adolescents With a Disruptive Behavior Disorder: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled fMRI Study

Louise Pape, Koen van Lith*, Dick Veltman, Moran Cohn, Reshmi Marhe, Wim van den Brink, Theo Doreleijers, Arne Popma

*Corresponding author for this work

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Some studies suggest that methylphenidate (MPH) might be an effective treatment for antisocial and aggressive behavior in adolescence. However, little is known about the mechanism of action of MPH in adolescents with this kind of psychopathology. MPH is a dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor and thus it is likely to affect dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic pathways. This is the first study to investigate the effect of MPH on resting-state connectivity of three mesolimbic seed regions with the rest of the brain in clinical referred male adolescents with a disruptive behavior disorder (DBD). Thirty-six male DBD adolescents and 31 male healthy controls (HCs) were included. DBD subjects were randomly allocated to a single dose of MPH (DBD-MPH, n = 20) or placebo (DBD-PCB, n = 16). Seed-based resting-state functional connectivity of the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), amygdala, and ventral tegmental area (VTA) with the rest of the brain was compared between groups. The NAcc seed showed increased connectivity in DBD-PCB compared to HC with the occipital cortex, posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), precuneus, and inferior parietal lobule (IPL) and increased connectivity in DBD-PCB compared to DBD-MPH with occipital cortex, IPL, and medial frontal gyrus. The amygdala seed showed increased connectivity in DBD-PCB compared to HC with the precuneus and PCC. The VTA seed showed increased connectivity in the DBD-MPH compared to the DBD-PCB group with a cluster in the postcentral gyrus and a cluster in the supplementary motor cortex/superior frontal gyrus. Both NAcc and amygdala seeds showed no connectivity differences in the DBD-MPH compared to the HC group, indicating that MPH normalizes the increased functional connectivity of mesolimbic seed regions with areas involved in moral decision making, visual processing, and attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number662652
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2021

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