People with ADHD have smaller brains

Feb 17, 2017, 00:26
People with ADHD have smaller brains

A study has shown that ADHD sufferers have smaller brains than those without the condition.

The condition is linked with inattention, hyperactivity and strong impulses and is thought to affect one in 20 under-18s.

"This study represents an important contribution to the field by providing robust evidence to support the notion of ADHD as a brain disorder with substantial effects on the volumes of subcortical nuclei", they wrote.

Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder have several brain regions that are slightly smaller than usual, more evidence that the disorder should be considered a neurological condition, a new study says.

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

Hoogman said that similar differences in brain volume were common to other psychiatric disorders, such as major depressive disorder. Although the disorder is most common in children and teenagers, it could sometimes advance into adult years - making it hard for the patient to live a healthy, balanced life.

Hoogman said: "We hope that this will help to reduce stigma that ADHD is "just a label" for hard children, or caused by poor parenting".

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry and is the largest review of ADHD patients' brain scans ever conducted.

The research confirms previous findings on the caudate and putamen and shows the impact is bilateral, the study said. The researchers also looked at the effect of age, gender, medication and other psychiatric disorders.

"The brain differences are very small, about a few percent smaller".

Hoogman and colleagues analyzed MRI scans for more than 3,200 people in nine countries aged four to 63, of whom 1,713 who had ADHD.

According to them, the amygdala's connection to ADHD is through the brain region's role in emotion regulation while the nucleus accumbens is related to emotional and motivational problems with the condition because of the role it plays in reward processing. The team says that there is now a need for longitudinal studies that follow children with ADHD into adulthood and track brain changes over time. The researchers therefore assume that a delay in the development of the brain is a characteristic of ADHD. "So because this study was orders of magnitude higher in terms of participants, and because it involved sampling broadly and internationally, it gives us more confidence". The difference between the brains of those who have ADHD and those of the ones who don't is small.

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