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Brain Images Show Abnormal Areas in ADHD Kids

In a small study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has identified abnormalities in the brains of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Researchers believe the brain abnormalities may serve as a biomarker for the disorder.

“Diagnosing ADHD is very difficult because of its wide variety of behavioral symptoms,” said lead researcher Xiaobo Li, Ph.D. “Establishing a reliable imaging biomarker of ADHD would be a major contribution to the field.”

Experts report that ADHD affects an estimated five to eight percent of school-aged children and is one of the most common childhood disorders. Behavioral inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity behaviors that are out of the normal range for a child’s age and development are criteria to diagnose ADHD.

However, there is no single test capable of diagnosing a child with the disorder. As a result, difficult children are often incorrectly labeled with ADHD while other children with the disorder remain undiagnosed.

For the study, Li and colleagues performed fMRI on 18 typically developing children and 18 children diagnosed with ADHD (age range 9 to 15 years).

Investigators engaged the children in a test that occupied their attention while they were undergoing fMRI. The children were shown a set of three numbers and then asked whether subsequent groups of numbers matched the original set.

For each participant, fMRI produced a brain activation map that revealed which regions of the brain became activated while the child performed the task. The researchers then compared the brain activation maps of the two groups.

Compared to the normal control group, the children with ADHD showed abnormal functional activity in several regions of the brain involved in the processing of visual attention information. The researchers also found that communication among the brain regions within this visual attention-processing pathway was disrupted in the children with ADHD.

“What this tells us is that children with ADHD are using partially different functional brain pathways to process this information, which may be caused by impaired white matter pathways involved in visual attention information processing,” Li said.

Li said much of the research conducted on ADHD has focused on the impulsivity component of the disorder.

“Inattention is an equally important component of this disorder,” she said, “and our findings contribute to understanding the pathology of inattentiveness in ADHD.”

Source: Radiological Society of North America

Brain Images Show Abnormal Areas in ADHD Kids

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). Brain Images Show Abnormal Areas in ADHD Kids. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 26, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/11/30/brain-images-show-abnormal-areas-in-adhd-kids/32022.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.