Study Looking at Brain Scans of Those with ADHD

CADDAC National Director

Results of the largest ADHD brain imaging study of its kind was released this week in The Lancet Psychiatry. MRIs of 1713 people with ADHD were compared to a control group of 1529 people without ADHD, between the ages of 4 and 63, across 9 countries.

Some of the study’s findings were:

  • It was discovered that those with ADHD had a smaller brain volume in five subcortical regions and an overall smaller brain volume
  • The most profound differences were in the brains of children
  • Brain structural differences were less evident in adulthood
  • These differences were seen in people whether or not they had taken medication and therefore not caused by medication use.
  • The biggest effect was seen in the amygdala, which controls emotional regulation

Why are these findings of interest? 

  • These findings support our current understanding of ADHD as a neurodevelopment disorder, with brains of those with ADHD developing more slowly.
  • Finding the largest difference in the Amygdala is important because at this time DSM 5 does not include emotional regulation impairment as a symptom of ADHD although many report these symptoms.
  • This helps to confirm the theory that emotional regulation difficulties are a core symptom for many with ADHD and are due to the medical disorder. Therefore, we need to stop punishing children and adults with ADHD who are impaired in regulating their emotions.
  • Finding brain alterations in those with ADHD confirms that ADHD is a legitimate medical disorder. Differences in brain volumes are also seen in other disorders like depression. This will hopefully reduce stigma and prevent further discussion on ADHD not being a legitimate disorder.
  • These results point to the need for further investigation into what causes these brain alterations and how they may impact brain development

To listen to our interview click HERE

To view more access,  CBC  Lancet  ScienceDaily

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