The Theta/Beta Ratio as an Index of Cognitive Processing in Adults With the Combined Type of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society (ECNS) 2019. An elevated theta/beta ratio in the EEG has long been observed among individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The theta/beta ratio was previously hypothesised to be an index of arousal, but a number of studies failed to find any association between the ratio and indices of arousal, instead proposing that the theta/beta ratio may actually be indicative of cognitive processing. This hypothesis was tested by Clarke et al using a sample of healthy adults, with results indicating that the theta/beta ratio correlated with a marker of cognitive processing (P300 latency in an auditory oddball task), while P300 amplitude correlated with an arousal marker (alpha power). The aim of this study was to test whether similar results could be found in a sample of 41 adults with the combined type of ADHD. EEGs were recorded during an eyes-closed resting condition and an auditory oddball task. Results demonstrated that the theta/beta ratio correlated significantly with P300 latency. Absolute alpha power did not correlate significantly with P300 amplitude or P300 latency. These results support the hypotheses that the theta/beta ratio is a marker of cognitive processing capacity in both the general population and in participants with ADHD, and that the alpha/arousal linkage is anomalous in ADHD.