Neurophysiological Attention Test (NAT)for Objective Assessment of ADHD

Period of Performance: 04/03/2013 - 03/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Think Now, Inc.
San Francisco, CA 94104
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a highly prevalent disorder that is diagnosed largely with subjective methods. This project is aimed at the validation of a novel assessment tool, the Neurophysiological Attention Test (NAT), for differentiating individuals with ADHD from controls and will conduct initial exploration of the NAT as a neurophysiological biomarker of treatment efficacy in ADHD. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: This project is aimed at the validation of a novel neurophysiological assessment tool for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a highly prevalent disorder. Future diagnostic classification that incorporates neurophysiological methods is highly desirable (see for example the RDoC initiative of NIMH), and there is a need for biomarkers for better evaluation and monitoring of treatment efficacy. Growing evidence indicates that ADHD has multiple functional components that can, in principle, be measured objectively. This Phase-I project will provide initial validation of a novel neurophysiological assessment method for adult ADHD that measures intra-individual variability in attentional control, with the expectation that this method will be useful across a broader age range of people with ADHD in the future. Cognitive neuroscience studies have clearly identified two functional components of top-down attentional control having distinct brain systems: top-down controlled enhancement of attended targets and top-down controlled suppression of ignored distractors. Existing research suggests that a key aspect of ADHD may be a deficit in consistent and purposeful maintenance of these two attentional control processes. Think Now, Inc., in collaboration with our colleagues at UCLA and the University of Washington, has created the innovative Neurophysiological Attention Test - NAT. The NAT (patent pending) is an EEG-based objective assessment instrument for continuously tracking behavioral performance and neurophysiological indices of intra-individual variability of attentional control over attending targets and ignoring distractors in individuals with ADHD. In this proposed Phase-I project we will test the validity and utility of the NAT as an instrument for differentiating adults with ADHD from controls and conduct a small exploratory study of the sensitivity of the neurophysiological measures to the effects of medication in ADHD;and optimize the NAT EEG measures for these purposes. This will be accomplished by testing adults with ADHD and a matched control population with extensive neuropsychological testing and the NAT EEG and performance measures.