Published: Sun, February 19, 2017
Medical | By Dorothy Lyons

Brain differences found in children with ADHD

Brain differences found in children with ADHD

According to a study published on Wednesday, individuals who diagnosed with attention deficit hyperacidity disorder ADHD might have a smaller brains than those without the condition. That gives researchers more confidence that the changes they found are reliable and worth investigating further.

The research used brain images of 1,713 people who had been diagnosed with ADHD and 1,529 people who had not; participants were between four and 63 years old.

The affected regions include the amygdala, which is involved in the regulation of emotion.

Researchers in the Netherlands scanned the brains of over 3,000 children and adults.

New findings show that ADHD might be a brain disorder.

"These differences are very small - in the range of a few percent - so the unprecedented size of our study was crucial to help identify these", Dr. Hoogman said.

However, neither a comorbid psychiatric disorder nor psychostimulant medications appeared to cause the brain differences of people in the study with ADHD, authors wrote.

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CNN defined ADHD as a neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

"Similar differences in brain volume are also seen in other psychiatric disorders, especially major depressive disorder".

The team said that the past reviews which related to changes in brain volume with ADHD had been too small to be conclusive. They concluded that this common illness should be considered an issue of the brain caused by delayed maturation. The findings on the accumbens, amygdala and hippocampus were new. These drugs have been known to be behind weight gain or loss, suicidal thoughts, and liver damage.

In conducting the largest brain imaging study of its kind, an global team of researchers found that ADHD involves decreased volume in key brain regions, in particular the amygdala, which is responsible for regulating the emotions. The hippocampus constitutes the area where our memories form, while the nucleus accumbens is the area responsible for processing motivation and reward. "Kids with ADHD often have emotional reactivity and poor frustration tolerance".

The differences in brain sizes are not the result of psychostimulants, which some of those who have ADHD take as medication.

Given the differences in brain structure they discovered, Hoogman and colleagues suggest that ADHD should be treated like a brain disorder, and not just some label for poor parenting or hard children. "We hope that this will help to reduce stigma that ADHD is "just a label" for hard children or caused by poor parenting". "This is definitely not the case, and we hope that this work will contribute to a better understanding of the disorder".

The research confirms previous findings on the caudate and putamen and shows the impact is bilateral, the study said.

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