Abstract

Objective: A literature review was conducted to investigate the current state of research using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) imaging methods to evaluate neurological activation patterns of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) populations. Data Selection: Informal search procedures were used to identify potential articles. Searches were conducted using EBSCO Academic Search Complete, ProQuest, and PsycINFO between March 1st, 2014 and March 31st, 2014. Search terms used were “near-infrared spectroscopy, ” “NIRS,” and “fNIRS.” To be included in the review, studies must have utilized an empirical design, collected data using fNIRS imaging methods, and have a specifically identified ADHD sample. 10 studies were identified that met the inclusion criteria. Results were evaluated for recurrent themes and patterns of activation detected by fNIRS. Data Synthesis: ADHD samples displayed a consistent trend of altered activation patterns. Specifically, ADHD samples exhibited decreased levels of oxygenated hemoglobin levels during tasks. A similar pattern emerged for deoxygenated hemoglobin levels, but group differences were smaller. Results from studies investigating the effects of methylphenidate stimulant medications indicated that these altered activation patterns showed a normalization trend when participants began taking methylphenidate medications. Conclusion(s): Although fNIRS has been identified as a viable imaging technique with both temporal and spatial resolution, few studies have been conducted using fNIRS to evaluate neurological activation patterns in participants with ADHD. Studies that have utilized fNIRS technology indicate that ADHD participants consistently demonstrate altered activation patterns when compared to controls. Implications for practice and future research will be discussed.