ADHD linked with smaller brain volumes not bad parenting: research

ADHD linked with smaller brain volumes not bad parenting: research”

While previous studies have also documented some brain differences in those affected, this represents the largest population of people studied.

The researchers concluded that a delay in brain development is typical of the condition, hoping the analysis would stop people associating it with "difficult children" or bad parenting. The study project had been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIS).

Most often diagnosed in children, ADHD is blamed for severe and repeated bouts of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsiveness that can cause problems at school or home.

Furthermore, the review has shown an insignificant difference in the brain volumes. "Comparable differences in size are also found in other psychiatric disorders, such as depression".

"These differences are very small - in the range of a few percent - so the unprecedented size of our study was crucial to help identify these".

For the new study, Dr. Hoogman and colleagues measured differences in brain structure from MRI scans of 1,713 participants diagnosed with ADHD, and in 1,529 other people (the controls) who did not have ADHD.

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The areas of the brain linked to ADHD are the caudate nucleus, putamen, pallidum, hippocampus, thalamus, amygdala and nucleus accumbems.

Brain scans revealed that five brain regions in those with ADHD were smaller than in those without ADHD.

The study ruled out the possibility that the brain changes were caused by ADHD drugs. Its ADHD project was four times the size of the previously largest study and was conducted at 23 locations in nine countries by 80 researchers, primarily psychiatrists and neuroscientists. The role of the hippocampus is less clear, but the researchers think it may have to do with motivation and emotion regulation.

Given the differences in brain structure they discovered, Hoogman and colleagues suggest that ADHD should be treated like a brain disorder, and not just some label for poor parenting or hard children. "So because this study was orders of magnitude higher in terms of participants, and because it involved sampling broadly and internationally, it gives us more confidence".

"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", lead author Martine Hoogman, Ph.D., said in a news release.

In a comment on the study, Jonathan Posner of Columbia University said it was an "important contribution" to the field of ADHD science. There was no difference between people who were taking ADHD medication and those who weren't.

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