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Brain Size Plays Key Role in ADHD

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has faced skepticism over the years. Some people believed that this disorder was a façade. ADHD is characterized by poor focus, forgetfulness, difficulty processing information, and the degree of difficulty someone has following directions. Children with ADHD were commonly considered troublemakers.

Not anymore.

Scientists have pinpointed the region in the brain where ADHD is developed.

Author Iliyan Ivanov, MD, of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City, discovered through the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that the thalamic surface (an area in the brain that’s responsible for sensation, motor skills, regulation of consciousness and alertness) is significantly smaller in children with ADHD than children without ADHD.

“Altered functioning in these networks is thought to subserve the development of symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention that are the hallmark of ADHD,” Ivanov told Medscape Psychiatry.

Dr. Ivanov, along with a team of researchers studied the brains of 105 subjects between the ages of 8 and 18. Of the subjects that underwent testing: 46 were ADHD, while 59 were healthy.

What scientists discovered was that the children and teens with ADHD showed that the overall volume of their thalamic surface was smaller.

“These are areas that are implicated in emotional processes, motor learning, and allocation of attention, all of which may be impaired in youth with ADHD,” said Dr. Ivanov.

Similarly, the subjects who were taking a medication for their ADHD at the time of the study showed that this particular region of their brains were larger, and were more comparative to those without ADHD.

“This study, to our best knowledge, is the first report that specifically examines the morphology of the thalamus in ADHD youth,” Dr. Ivanov noted. “We also used a novel analytic technique called surface morphometry that allows for a more detailed study of the surface of the thalamus. This approach offers that advantage of detecting differences in both conventional and regional thalamic volumes.”

Brain Size Plays Key Role in ADHD

Rochelle Oliver, Associate News Editor

APA Reference
Associate News Editor, R. (2018). Brain Size Plays Key Role in ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 15, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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