Published: Fri, February 17, 2017
Health | By Bessie Ortiz

Physical disorder, not bad behavior: Study links ADHD to brain size

Physical disorder, not bad behavior: Study links ADHD to brain size

ADHD is more than "just a hard child", something you hear all too often about children with ADHD'.

People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have smaller brains than those who don't have the disorder, according to a new medical study that claims there's more behind ADHD than just bad behavior.

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, appeared in the Wednesday (Feb. 15th) edition of the journal Lancet Psychiatry. "Future meta-analyses and mega-analyses will need to investigate medication effects as well as the developmental course of volumetric differences in this disorder".

Previous studies which associated changes in brain volume with ADHD had been too small to be conclusive, the team said.

Most often diagnosed in children, ADHD is blamed for severe and repeated bouts of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsiveness that can cause problems at school or home. Evidence has been revealed in scans that show structural differences in the brains of sufferers.

The researchers looked at the brain volume of 1,713 people with ADHD and 1,529 people with out ADHD aged between 4 and 63 years.

The areas of the brain linked to ADHD are the caudate nucleus, putamen, pallidum, hippocampus, thalamus, amygdala and nucleus accumbems.

The results showed that the brains of participants with ADHD were smaller overall, and that volumes of five of the seven regions were also smaller: the caudate nucleus, putamen, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, and hippocampus.

After reviewing one scan per person, scientists found no effect from ADHD medications.

The researchers speculate that the amygdala is linked to ADHD through the part it plays in controlling emotion, and the nucleus accumbens through the role it plays in reward processing. This is the largest such study for ADHD to date, Radboud UMC announced on its website.

"Worldwide cooperation is therefore an absolute must", Martine Hoogman, researcher at Radboud UMC and lead author on the study paper, said.

"We hope that this will help to reduce stigma that ADHD is "just a label" for hard children or caused by poor parenting", said lead author Martine Hoogman of Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

Dr. Jonathan Posner, Psychiatrist at Columbia University, said that the study gives a vital contribution with such a substantial amount of data.

A new study confirms that ADHD, especially in children, such as this Maryland adolescent negotiating a laser maze, is a brain disorder. The difference between the brains of those who have ADHD and those of the ones who don't is small.

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