Genetic overlap between ADHD symptoms and EEG theta power

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Biological markers that are grounded in neuroscience may facilitate understanding of the pathophysiology of complex psychiatric disorders. One of the most consistent and robust neural abnormalities in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is increased EEG power in the theta band at rest (4–8 Hz). The present study used a twin design to estimate the extent of genetic overlap between increased theta power and risk for ADHD in order to validate theta power as a marker of genetic risk for ADHD. At rest, EEG was measured in 30 monozygotic and dizygotic adolescent twin pairs concordant or discordant for high ADHD symptom scores and 37 monozygotic and dizygotic control twin pairs with low ADHD symptom scores. Structural equation modelling was used to estimate the heritability of theta power and partition the genetic and environmental contributions to the overlap between ADHD and theta power. A significant phenotypic correlation between ADHD symptoms and elevated theta power was found. Theta power demonstrated moderate to high heritability estimates (0.77) and moderate genetic correlations with ADHD (0.35) suggesting shared genetic influences. Increased theta power is a candidate biological marker of genetic risk for ADHD, which warrants further investigation of the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the genetic relationship.

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