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Are ADHD brains wired up differently?

Sat, 20th Apr 2013

David Weston

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Paying attention to ADHD

David -   So, the first paper Id like to talk about ties into this whole theme of attention and ADHD.  And as we know, ADHD is quite a tricky disease to diagnose.  It involves a subjective opinion from doctors and psychiatrists.  So, a study published this month in biological psychiatry has looked not just at the structural differences between the brains of ADHD patients and the general population, but also, differences in the connectivity of different brain regions. 

And what the lead author of this paper, Samuel Cortez and his colleagues at the Child Study Centre in the USA have found is that, the brain connectivity of ADHD patients is actually slightly different from those of normal population.  Saggital transection through the human brain

So, they measured the connectivity of the brain using a technique called diffusion tensor imaging which is a type of MRI scan that look specifically at the connectivity of white matter tracks in the brain.  They found differences in the white matter tracks of subjects with ADHD whether they had the ADHD as an adult or as a result of a childhood diagnosis.  And these white matter tracks are the pathways that connect areas of the brain involved in higher cognitive functions. 

So, this study indicates that changes in brain structure may be persistent in child diagnosed with ADHD that carries forward to adulthood.  And this supports the idea that neurological changes made during childhood could stick around during adulthood.

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