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ADHD Linked To Brain Size

Update Date: Feb 16, 2017 08:00 AM EST

New study suggests that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have different brain structure from those people without ADHD. Several brain regions were found to be slightly smaller than usual. This gives more evidence that ADHD should be considered as a neurological condition.

ADHD causes lack of attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, but sometimes a person with ADHD may not show all of the traits.

The study is the largest review of ADHD patients' brain scans ever conducted. It can help provide information necessary for developing new treatments. Study lead author Martine Hoogman of Radboud University in the Netherlands said "If you know what region of the brain is involved in ADHD, you could possibly target that part with medication."

According to US News the researchers analyzed MRI scans of more than 3,200 people aged 4 to 63-years-old. They found that 1,713 children who had ADHD had slightly smaller brain regions, particularly the amygdala, part of the brain that control emotions, voluntary movement and understanding.

The research was conducted by ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta Analysis), an ADHD working group. The study was conducted at 23 locations in 9 countries by 80 researchers.

According to the Washington Post other regions that were the caudate nucleus, which has been linked to goal-directed action. Another is the putamen, which is involved in learning and responding to stimuli. The nucleus accumbens, processes rewards and motivation. Last is the hippocampus where memories are formed.

After reviewing one scan per person, scientists found no effect from ADHD medications. Their findings support previous theories that ADHD people's brains may develop more slowly."By the time they become adults, the differences in their brains are not significant anymore," Hoogman said.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and was published online Wednesday in the journal, Lancet Psychiatry.

Some experts criticized the findings, although interesting but there was not enough information to link brain difference to behavioral problems as seen in ADHD patients.

The study will hopefully create more empathy for children with ADHD. The findings can help parents determine ADHD early.

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