New research reveals brain differences in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Experts at the Kennedy Krieger Institute used magnetic resonance imaging to study the brains of preschool children who exhibited symptoms of ADHD. Although many studies have been conducted on older children with ADHD, the researchers wanted to determine if ADHD could be screened at a younger age in order to provide early intervention and treatment. ADHD affects nearly 2 million children, and results in social dysfunction, lack of impulse control and poor academic performance. Many children who suffer with ADHD develop symptoms at an early age, and are usually deemed hyperactive or inattentive by their parents or preschool teachers. The researchers looked at children, ages four and five, with and without ADHD symptoms to determine if there was a difference in their brain development. They examined the basal ganglia and cortical ganglia and discovered significant differences in the region of the brain known as the caudate nucleus. The children with symptoms of ADHD had lower caudate volumes than those children without symptoms. The caudate nucleus is located in the region of the brain that is responsible for motor and cognitive control.
“Clinically, this abnormal brain development sets the stage for the symptoms of ADHD that contribute to cognitive challenges and problems in school,” said Dr. Mark Mahone, lead author and Director of Neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD. “Earlier identification and treatment of children presenting with attention problems in the preschool years may minimize the impact of ADHD in the long-term.” The researchers will track the brain development of the participants for many years in order to identify variances in this region over time. Being able to identify which children are at risk for developing ADHD could potentially allow them to receive treatment before they experience significant social and academic challenges.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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