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Search For an Early ADHD Diagnosis

A new Canadian study of eye movements may aid in understanding childhood brain development and healthy aging.

The tests, developed by Queen’s University researchers, may also help in the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and detecting the early onset of Parkinson’s disease.

“An important aspect of what makes us human is the ability to control our behavior,” says physiology professor Douglas Munoz, who leads the study.

“Our project investigates how the brain provides this control by observing eye movements. Our experiments have been designed to combine high speed eye movement recording with modern brain imaging techniques to identify brain regions that control our behaviour.”

To test this, the team designed a simple yet ingenious experiment. Participants from a wide range of age groups were placed in a magnetic resonance imaging unit that measured their brain activity.

While in the unit, they were shown a series of lights and asked to move their eyes toward or away from the lights. The speed and accuracy of their eye movements were recorded and correlated to the activity being documented in specific areas of their brains.

The study showed that at early ages, children scored low. Although they understood the task, sometimes they couldn’t help but look at the light, even when asked to look away from it. As the age of the subjects increased, response times decreased and accuracy improved, peaking at age 20-25.

As the subjects continued to age, the response times started to increase.

The researchers could also see which sections of the participant’s brains were active, and which were less active, with age. With these baselines in place, the same experiments can now be conducted with patients who have ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.

“In preliminary experiments, kids with ADHD could not help but look at the light no matter if they were asked to look away or not. Normal brain activity was also decreased,” says Professor Munoz.

“When they took their ADHD medication the success rates, and the activity in certain areas of the brain, increased. This test could therefore be used to examine the effectiveness of new ADHD medication.”

The same holds true for Parkinson’s disease. In preliminary experiments, patients with the disease had a consistent pattern of eye movement time and brain activity. Introducing the tests in clinics as part of regular health exams could result in earlier diagnosis of Parkinson’s, allowing the disease progression to be controlled with diet and medication, Dr. Munoz adds.

Source: Queen’s University

Search For an Early ADHD Diagnosis

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Search For an Early ADHD Diagnosis. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/07/15/search-for-an-early-adhd-diagnosis/7120.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.