Pubertal influences on neural activation during risky decision-making in youth with ADHD and disruptive behavior disorders

Allyson L. Dir, Tom A. Hummer, Matthew C. Aalsma, Leslie A. Hulvershorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Risk-taking during adolescence is a leading cause of mortality; Neuroscience research examining pubertal effects on decision-making is needed to better inform interventions, particularly among youth with attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) and disruptive behavior disorders (DBD), who are particularly prone to risky decision-making. We examined effects of pubertal development on risky decision-making and neural activation during decision-making among youth with ADHD/DBDs. Method: Forty-six 11–12-year-olds (29.4% girls; 54.9% white; Tanner M(SD) = 2.08(1.32)) who met DSM-5 criteria for ADHD/DBD completed the Balloon Analog Risk Task (BART) during fMRI scanning. We examined effects of Tanner stage, sex, and age on risky decision-making (mean wager at which individuals stopped balloon inflation) and neural activation in the middle frontal gyrus and the ventral striatum during the choice and outcome phases of decision-making. Results: Those in earlier pubertal stages made riskier decisions during the BART compared to those in later Tanner stages (β=-0.62, p =.02). Later pubertal stage was associated with greater activation in the left middle frontal gyrus (β=0.61, p =.03) during the choice phase and in the right ventral striatum in response to rewards (β=0.59, p =.03). Conclusion: Youth with ADHD/DBD in later stages of puberty, regardless of age, show greater ventral striatal activation in response to rewards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100634
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • ADHD
  • Decision-making
  • Disruptive behavior disorders
  • Neuroimaging
  • Puberty
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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