Mātai News

Funding lift for ADHD research

The Gisborne Herald, 8 November 2022

A project in Gisborne to create an atlas of the ADHD brain has won an $837,000 funding boost.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi Marsden Fund money will help Auckland Bioengineering Institute Associate Professor Justin Fernandez to pursue research using ultra-fast functional MRI scans to reveal differences in the way the brain responds between people who are neurotypical and people who have ADHD.


The project will look for an MRI-based biomarker of ADHD, which could potentially help fast track the ADHD diagnosis process.


Dr Fernandez and a multidisciplinary team of bioengineers, neuropsychologists, and medical physicists are partnering with GE Healthcare and the Mātai Medical Research Institute in Gisborne, to create the first dynamic brain atlas of ADHD in a diverse New Zealand population.


“Using Hyperband functional MRI, a novel super-fast sequence, researchers will capture images of people’s brains as they perform specific tasks,” Dr Fernandez said.


“The project started in 2020, when Mātai was still in the process of installing its state-of-the-art GE 3-Tesla Scanner. We started conversations around researching MRI biomarkers of ADHD including the effect of fidgeting on brain attention.

“Mātai were very flexible, open to collaborations, and helped us reach out to the community. Mātai offered a pilot grant, which included a number of hours of free scan time, and expertise and support around designing relevant scanning methods.


“This enabled us to gather initial data and test ideas, using some of the world’s most advanced imaging technologies.”


Associate Professor Samantha Holdsworth, from Matai, said the project was using super-fast functional MRI methods to look at the brain in a different dimension.


“This exciting study may help us get closer to better understand the role of fidgeting in ADHD, and provide a more reliable tool to diagnose ADHD”.