Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Dr. Angela Laird

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Robert Laird

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Pete Markowitz

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Erica Musser

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


functional magnetic resonance imaging, fmri, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, adhd, emotion perception, faces, animals, story cartoons, default mode network

Date of Defense



Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common child-onset neurodevelopment disorders, affecting 5% of children in the United States (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Treatment matching in ADHD is difficult and unsatisfactory; the same general treatment algorithm is recommended for all children. It is therefore important to consider the development of specialized treatment programs based on a variety of behavioral and neurological biomarkers. Unfortunately, due to its multi-faceted classification, the heterogeneity of this behavioral disorder is under-investigated (Costa Dias et al., 2015). Scientific research in this area is especially limited as the severity of ADHD goes undiagnosed, children tend to have difficulties remaining still in MRI scanners, and the hyperactivity-impulsivity that is associated with ADHD may cause further challenges when trying to remain motionless in the scanner. Furthermore, tasks such as Facial Emotion Perception Task (FEPT) and Theory of Mind (ToM) have not been used to analyze social and behavioral deficits in children with ADHD. More research needs to be allocated to helping uncover the neural substrates underlying the inattention and hyperactivity traits of this disorder. For this reason, we acquired functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from five children with ADHD performing the FEPT and ToM tasks. The results showed the children have an easier and quick time correctly identifying happy emotional states, as compared to the fearful, angry, and neutral conditions. Results from the FEPT task also revealed that the participants were thinking and reasoning more (i.e., taking longer to deduce an ending) when identifying emotions than identifying animals. The ToM task showed that the default mode network (DMN) may not be fully suppressed when the children are choosing the correct cartoon ending, and therefore the children may be having lapses in attention. These findings may assist the current hypothesis that the default mode network has reduced network homogeneity in people with ADHD. Overall, the findings presented in this thesis provide a good diving board into discovering the reason(s) for the social cognition and emotion recognition impairments associated with ADHD, but further research is needed in order to one day pinpoint and ultimately correct the regions(s) of dysfunction.





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