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Scientists have been perplexed by the etiology of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. This buzzword creates deep discussions about the validity of the diagnosis, its prevalence and treatment. Researchers have been asking the question, “Do the brains of individuals with ADHD develop in an abnormal manner or is their development delayed?”  

New research by psychiatrist Dr. Philip Shaw suggests that ADHD is a brain disorder whose symptoms appear to be associated with a neurological developmental delay. He used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to track changes in cortical thickness (the outer layer of the brain associated with language, memory and thinking) in the brains of individuals with and without ADHD.  

He discovered interesting results. For children without a diagnosis of ADHD, their cortices reach a peak thickness at around age 7 or 8 and then get thinner as the child develops. In contrast, children with ADHD, their cortices reach their peak thickness at approximately age 10. Across the board, the pattern of brain development was the same for children with and without ADHD. The brain’s frontal cortex which is associated with impulse control, understanding long-term consequences, judgment, and attention in children with ADHD is delayed and may explain the inattentiveness common in children with ADHD.  

Another significant finding, was that children with ADHD attained a developmental milestone earlier than their peers without ADHD. This is the development of their motor cortex which regulates voluntary muscle movements. This early brain development combined with the results of their frontal cortex being delayed may explain the fidgeting and restlessness characteristic of children diagnosed with ADHD.  

*For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at [Link Removed] 

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Dr. Aleksandra Drecun wrote Oct 23, 2009
    • There are two ways a person can be diagnosed: 1) if the individual exhibits both inattention and hyperactivity they receive a Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder diagnosis. 2) If the individual only manifests inattention and not hyperactivity, they can receive a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder. While they both fall under the same spectrum, there are differences in terms of motor activity.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Dr. Aleksandra Drecun wrote Oct 24, 2009
    • Yes, it still is a diagnosis. However, there is a lot of controversy that surrounds the diagnosis. It also appears to be culturally based.

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