Published: Fri, February 17, 2017
Health Care | By Jeffery Armstrong

People with ADHD have atypical brains

People with ADHD have atypical brains

"The study confirms that there are structural differences in the brains of people with ADHD, but it doesn't tell us what they mean", said Graham Murray, a lecturer in psychiatry at Cambridge University, who was not part of the research.

Previous studies had showed that other brain regions such as caudate and putamen are also smaller in people with ADHD. Differences were most apparent in the area of the brain responsible for emotions, the amygdala.

Kids with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have slightly smaller than usual brain regions, a fresh review of ADHD patients' brain scans revealed.

'This is a disorder of the brain just like clinical depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - also associated with abnormal brain volumes.

The study hopes to create more empathy for children with ADHD.

The results of the study, which involved 1,713 people with ADHD and 1,529 people without the condition, were published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

But the differences are also really hard to spot, according to Hoogman, who says the brains of one group only differed by "a few percent - so the unprecedented size of our study was crucial to help identify these". It is the work of the ENIGMA Consortium, an worldwide multidisciplinary group that is investigating genetic and brain-imaging differences in psychiatric disorders.

They analyzed MRI data from 1,713 people with ADHD and 1,529 controls ranging in age from 4 to 63 years.

ADHD, which is most common in children but also affects adults, causes severe patterns of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

The affected regions include the amygdala, which is involved in the regulation of emotion. "This is definitely not the case, and we hope that this work will contribute to a better understanding of the disorder".

They found no difference between people who were taking or had taken ADHD drugs, and those who had never taken such medications - suggesting that the brain changes were not caused by psychostimulants.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Jonathan Posner hailed the findings.

He notes that the study makes an important contribution by "providing robust evidence to support the notion of ADHD as a brain disorder with substantial effects on the volumes of subcortical nuclei".

Another recent study in ADHD dates back to May past year, and posits that children with the disorder have some symptoms also found with rare forms of cancer.

The results showed that the brains of people with ADHD are smaller than those of healthy subjects.

A new study, the largest ever of its kind, may shed light.

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