I just read an article that is not satisfying. Not because it is wrong (although…), but because of the findings it discussed.
Dr. Martine Hoogman of the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands was the lead author of this study published n the Lancet. You notice I didn’t list the co-authors? That’s because there are 84 of them! They are all part of ENIGMA- the Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta Analysis group, a world-wide study consortium of 23 research institutions across 9 countries.
OK, Roy- spill it. What bothered you?
These scientists have discerned via brain imaging that those folks who have been diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorder) have smaller brain volumes than most. The researchers attribute this to delayed brain maturation. (The good news- ADHD is not the parents’ fault- at least according to this meta-analysis. But, check out tomorrow’s post…)
What parts of the brain seem to be affected? The amygdala, in particular- which is the portion of the brain that controls our emotional state, our response to emotional stimuli. It also helps us NOT respond to stimuli.
This finding obtains for kids, adolescents, and adults- but the greatest differential is among the children’s brains. (This may mean that ADHD attributes attenuate as we age, though.) A total of 3242 subjects were examined, ranging in age from 4 to 63. (Almost half were diagnosed as ADHD patients.)
The other regions of the brains affected by ADHD? The caudate nucleus (learning, stimulus response center), the putamen (also involved with learning and stimulus responses), the nucleus accumbens (motivation and reward center), and the hippocampus (where we store our memories).
Moreover, the data demonstrated that medication, psychiatric disorders, or even the severity of symptoms did not change this finding of brain size differences. And, since it was more pronounced in children than adults, the researchers felt more assured that it was the trajectory of brain development (particularly the cortical regions)- the velocity is slower in kids, but they catch up as they become adults.
So, as I said- the results are interesting, almost satisfying. In that we find that ADHD is more reversible as we age.