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Monday 24th October 2016

The ADHD brain matures later

13th November 2007

Children and adolescents suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may simply be developing certain areas of the brain more slowly than their peers, a new study has shown.


In an imaging study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), researchers found that the brain simply matures later in young people with ADHD, but still does so in a normal way.

They found that the delay in ADHD was most prominent in regions at the front of the brain’s outer mantle (cortex), important for the ability to control thinking, attention and planning.

Otherwise, both groups showed a similar pattern of brain development.

Families of children with ADHD should be reassured by the study, which shows that the disorder is the result of a developmental delay, but one which eventually catches up with the person's peer group when they reach young adulthood.

Philip Shaw of NIMH's Child Psychiatry Branch, led the research team. He said the new images could explain why many young people simply seem to grow out of ADHD.

Previous studies had lacked the fine-tuning needed for the neuroimagery to present a clear picture of what was happening.

This latest study scanned most of the 446 participants – ranging from preschoolers to young adults – at least twice at about three-year intervals. They focused on the age when cortex thickening during childhood gives way to thinning following puberty, as unused neural connections are pruned for optimal efficiency during the teen years.

Using new techniques, researchers were able to pinpoint the thickening and thinning of thousands of cortex sites in hundreds of children and teens, with and without the disorder.

Out of 223 young people with ADHD, half of 40,000 cortex sites measured attained peak thickness at an average age of 10.5, compared to age 7.5 in a matched group of youth without the disorder.

The team published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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dave lewis

Friday 16th November 2007 @ 10:16

Excuse me sticking my nose in, but I am curious to know if the use of magnets placed around the heads of people with ADHD has been tried? Theory being, the magnets would help control the speed or direction of the electrical impulses flowing to the brain.
I would be gratful if you could find the time to reply with any info. or thoughts on the matter, many thanks, Dave Lewis. < dplbutterfly@yahoo.co.uk >

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