Gregory Tau, M.D., Ph.D.

Fellow in Child & Adolescent ADHD

Project Details


Bradley Peterson, M.D.


Columbia University

The New York State Psychiatric Institute


An fMRI Study of Reward-Based Learning and Memory in Youth with ADHD and Cannabis Abuse


An fMRI Study of Reward-Based Learning and Memory in Youth with ADHD and Cannabis Abuse


Often, youth with ADHD also have problems drugs, especially cannabis (marijuana). Together, ADHD and Cannabis Use Disorders (CUDs) have more profound effects on life trajectories and treatment outcomes than either disorder alone. Yet, brain research of dually diagnosed youth is sorely lacking; substance-using individuals are often excluded from research studies of ADHD. ADHD and SUDs may have distinct effects on the brain but share functional deficits in executive functioning and reward. Multiple lines of evidence also suggest that abnormalities in brain systems for memory may be central to the pathogenesis of both ADHD and SUDs. Using functional magnetic imaging (fMRI), we will conduct the first study to investigate abnormalities in the functioning of neural circuits for reward and memory in youth with ADHD alone and in youth with ADHD+CUDs. During fMRI scanning, participants will undergo a virtual reality-based assessment of multiple reward-based learning and memory systems. Participants will also undergo a complete characterization that includes neurocognitive and psychiatric assessments. We hypothesize that youth with ADHD and ADHD+CUDS will have distinct disturbances in the functioning of brain regions involved in reward and memory. We believe that characterizing unique functional abnormalities in the neural circuits that subserve reward-based learning and memory in youth with ADHD and ADHD+CUDs may help differentiate the roles of distinct forms of reward-based learning in the pathogenesis of ADHD and CUDs. Our findings also hold the promise of identifying neural biomarkers that may improve early risk assessment, diagnosis, treatment assignment, and developing personalized treatment for dually diagnosed youth.

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