Dr. Hoogman has said that the study shows people with ADHD have differences in brain structure. It identifies size differences in several brain regions and the brain overall, with the greatest differences seen in children rather than adults.
A total of 3,242 people, ages 4 to 63, underwent MRI brain scans. Nonetheless, the findings of previous studies identified areas within the basal ganglia - the brain region responsible for controlling cognition, voluntary movement, and emotion - as being involved in ADHD, with putamen and caudate regions being specifically observed as smaller in those with the condition.
The findings were calculated from a survey of of 1,713 people with ADHD and 1,529 people without, and has now been published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry.
Similar differences in brain volume are also seen in other psychiatric disorders, especially major depressive disorder, the researchers said. In order to show that ADHD is a brain condition, researchers measured the overall brain volume and the volume of 7 regions that are linked to the disorder.
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) results, in essence, in sudden bursts of hyperactivity, coupled with inattention and a frequent inability to focus.
The findings are important, he adds, because they verify the results of earlier studies considered too small to be conclusive. People still see them as either being hard or else have been the result of parents who haven't managed them well. These brain regions were the hippocampus, amygdala, nucleus accumbens, putamen, and caudate nucleus. Existing ADHD meds are very powerful, and cause a plethora of side effects, ranging from weight loss to depression and feelings of suicide.
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According to them, the amygdala's connection to ADHD is through the brain region's role in emotion regulation while the nucleus accumbens is related to emotional and motivational problems with the condition because of the role it plays in reward processing.
However, researchers found no differences between individuals who were taking or had taken ADHD drugs and who were not, recommending that the brain changes were not brought by psychostimulants.
Despite the large numbers of participants of all ages, the study was not created to investigate how ADHD might develop over a person's lifetime.
Differences in sizes are small, as noted by lead author Dr. Martine Hoogman of Radboud University.
Jonathan Posner, an associate professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in NY, also said the research should help families with children diagnosed with ADHD. He has suggested that ADHD could be classified as a brain disorder based on the study. "This is definitely not the case, and we hope that this work will contribute to a better understanding of the disorder". He also calls for further studies to track brain differences in the development of ADHD, and suggests that there should also be an investigation of any medication effects.