Recent study shows ADD *IS* brain-based
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 88 Comments
Not really “news” but . . .
FINALLY convincing evidence
© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Brain-based Series
Researchers show that critical areas of the brain are smaller in ADDers, proving that the oft-marginalized and scoffed at condition is indeed a brain-based disorder.
Imaging Study Shows Structural Brain Differences
According to a new report funded by The National Institutes of Health [NIH], MRIs of more than 3,000 individuals provide further evidence that those with ADD/ADHD have structurally different brains than those with “vanilla” brains (no ADD/ADHD/EFD ‘mix-ins’)
The differences were more pronounced in children than in adults, but they clearly support the assertions that ADD/ADHD is a developmental brain disorder, NOT simply a “label.”
Related Post: ADD or ADHD: What’s in a NAME?
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About the Study
**ENIGMA: Evidence-based Network for the
Interpretation of Germline Mutant Alleles
ENIGMA recruited 3,242 volunteers between the ages of 4 and 63 — 1,713 with ADD/ADHD and 1,529 without — to undergo MRI scans.
Participants with ADD/ADHD showed smaller volumes in seven key regions of the brain — most of which had already been associated with ADD/ADHD for some time, well-known among the expert doctors and researchers in the field but not well publicized:
- the caudate nucleus
- nucleus accumbens
- amygdala, and
- the hippocampus
Look Twice at the Last Two
- Our old friend Mr. Amygdala may be particularly important, since it plays a key role in memory, decision-making, and emotional regulation — all a tad klugdy in ADD/ADHD brains.
- The hippocampus is important for both short-term and long-term memory, areas of impact which are frequently impaired in members of the ADD/ADHD tribe.
Results differ by Age
The researchers noted that the variations were largest in children and, though many of the ADD/ADHD group were modulating ADD affect with medication, it didn’t appear to have any effect on the MRI results.
The disparity between children and adults led the researchers to hypothesize that ADD/ADHD is linked to a delay in brain maturation — though further longitudinal work is needed to fully understand how ADD/ADHD brains change throughout the life cycle.
A clear and hopefully precedent-setting
statement of awareness that they do, in fact, change
(as opposed to the very old “goes away at puberty” mythology).
Sample size matters
Overall, while these differences are small (only a few percentage points in some cases), the unusually large sample size allowed the research team to clearly identify patterns, confirming previous studies that had reached the same conclusions through smaller sample sizes that rendered them inconclusive.
With more than 3,000 participants, this was the largest study of its kind — adding clear evidence that ADD/ADHD IS, in fact, a brain-based disorder, and not the result of “bad parenting” or a lack of willpower.
The lead investigator of the study, Martine Hoogman, Ph.D., had this to say:
“The results from our study confirm that people with ADHD have differences in their brain structure and therefore suggest that ADHD is a disorder of the brain.”
“We hope that this will help to reduce stigma that ADHD is ‘just a label’ for difficult children or caused by poor parenting. This is definitely not the case, and we hope that this work will contribute to a better understanding of the disorder.”
Edited Reposting from “Large Imaging Study Shows Structural Brain Differences in People with ADHD” — from Attention Magazine online.
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