They find unusual traits in the brains of people with ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD it is one of the most popular neurodevelopmental disorders. Often overdiagnosed, this disorder can lead to different types of difficulties that limit the normative functioning of the child in areas like academia or even in social interaction.

Although the symptoms present in this disorder have sometimes been considered to correspond to a delay in the development of the maturation of certain areas of the brain, recent research has detected the presence of own characteristics in the brains of people with ADHD, Which can help to understand the causes of this phenomenon.

    ADHD: a neurodevelopmental disorder

    Let’s start with the basics: what is ADHD? It is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the presence of symptomatology linked to attention deficit and possible hyperactivity and impulsivity. These symptoms are persistent and last for more than six months. Moreover, they do not correspond to the level of development of the subject or to the experience of traumatic situations that can cause this symptomatology.

    At the diagnostic level, there must be at least 6 symptoms of inattention such as neglect of details, difficulty paying attention, difficulty completing tasks or following instructions or forgetting, repeated loss of objects, forgetfulness or ease when a task is being performed.

    For hyperactivity to be taken into account, they must also appear minimal symptoms such as motor restlessness, inability to stay still, Not speaking or taking turns, disrupting the activities of others or drowsiness. Impulsivity and the presence of difficulty controlling emotions are also very common. It is important to note that this disorder can occur with or without hyperactivity (in which case we would be dealing with attention deficit disorder or ADD).

    ADHD or ADHD is a problem that requires treatment and which although it is usually diagnosed in children, they are present in both children and adults (About two-thirds of patients will still have symptoms in adulthood). Some of the symptoms may go away as the subject grows and their brain has just developed or learns mechanisms to avoid or compensate for their difficulties.

      explanatory hypotheses

      ADHD is a complex disorder that has been the subject of various considerations as to what causes it. Some of them link it to the existence of brain disorders, and in fact, a slower pattern of brain development has been observed in certain areas of the brain in those diagnosed.

      Specifically, the data that have been studied in recent years indicate a comparatively lower rate of frontal lobe maturation than would occur to them taking into account the age of the child. This corresponds to the presence of alterations in executive functions and difficulties in inhibiting behavior, attention or focusing attention. It also explains why some of the symptoms may decrease with age.

      Likewise it has been observed that there is a problem in arousal or cortical activation level in subjects with ADHD, which creates difficulties in regulating the level of activity and managing the demands of the environment. In this regard, it has been seen that the brains of ADHD patients tend to exhibit lower amounts of dopamine and cerebral serotonin than subjects without this problem.

      Features of the brains of people with ADHD

      Exploring and finding elements that explain the disorder remain very important aspects that can help to better understand both the problem and how it may work to help those who are suffering from it.

      A meta-analysis of several investigations performed using neuroimaging concluded that indeed exhibits structural and functional alterations in the brains of ADHD patients that cause or influence the presence of symptomatology. Specifically, in addition to the presence of a delay in the development and maturation of the frontal lobe, the existence of subcortical alterations has been observed (i.e. under the rough cortex that covers the brain ).

      One of the common alterations in these patients is the presence of a smaller size of the basal ganglia, related to learning, the development of models of motor behavior, Motivation, emotional management and executive functions.

      Alterations in the limbic system, the “emotional brain”, have also been observed. These anomalies are found in particular in the amygdala and the hippocampus, elements of great importance in the processing and management of emotion, memory and motivation. these alterations they are especially noticeable in the amygdala, which is smaller in size and developing than in subjects without this problem.

      Although these results they should not lead us to neglect the presence of psychosocial factors and its influence on the onset of this disorder, the results of this research provide insight into the biological aspects of suffering from ADHD and may ultimately help develop more effective ways of treating this problem.

        Bibliographical references:

        • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
        • Barkley, R. (2006). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Third Edition: Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment, Guildford Publications. New York.
        • Hoogman, M. et al. (2017). Subcortical brain volume differences in participants with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults: a cross-sectional mega-analysis. The Lancet. 4 (4), 310-319. Elsevier.

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