Objective: This article reviews the electroencephalography (EEG) literature in relation to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD).

Methods: The review briefly outlines the history of the disorder, focusing on the changing diagnostic systems which both reflect and constrain research into AD/HD. Both qualitative and quantitative EEG studies are examined, and their results are discussed in relation to various models of AD/HD. Implications of these data for future research and development in AD/HD are considered.

Results: In terms of resting EEG, elevated relative theta power, and reduced relative alpha and beta, together with elevated theta/alpha and theta/beta ratios, are most reliably associated with AD/HD. Theta/alpha and theta/beta ratios also discriminate diagnostic subgroups of AD/HD. Recent studies of EEG heterogeneity in this disorder indicate the existence of different profiles of cortical anomalies which may cut across diagnostic types.

Conclusions: The research to date has identified a substantial number of EEG correlates of AD/HD which hold promise for improving our understanding of the brain dysfunction(s) underlying the disorder. Further work in this field may benefit from a broader conceptual approach, integrating EEG and other measures of brain function.

Barry RJ, Clarke AR, Johnstone SJ. A review of electrophysiology in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: I. Qualitative and quantitative electroencephalography. Clin Neurophysiol. 2003 Feb;114(2):171-83. doi: 10.1016/s1388-2457(02)00362-0. PMID: 12559224.