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Researchers find part of the brain that causes ADHD


By Juliano Oliveira

For the first time, researchers have identified which part of the human brain is responsible for causing ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The finding is considered significant by the medical community as the way the treatment of this disorder is managed, can be changed in the future.

Through neuroimaging, the brains of 80 adults were analysed. These patients had been diagnosed with ADHD as children and they had never used medication and did not have any other psychiatric disorders or illnesses. That data was compared to brain images from more than 120 healthy controls of similar intelligence.

Lead researcher and head of the Clinical Brain Networks team at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Dr Luca Cocchi, said that no major differences in the brain anatomy of people with ADHD, compared to people without the condition, had been found. However, there was a change in how the anatomical pathways support the communication between visual, somatomotor, and frontoparietal brain regions.

Doctor Cocchi also revealed that ADHD symptoms are linked to noisy communication between brain regions in individuals with the disorder. “Our results suggest that elevated noise in the signal between sensory and cognitive regions of the brain are related to people having trouble maintaining their attention and controlling their hyperactivity”.

“It’s like when a loudspeaker is not working properly and emits a lot of static, making it harder to understand what is being said.”

Dr Cocchi said the study findings provided important new clues for future research into this sometimes debilitating-disorder. “This could also lead to better treatments. That could be with drugs that reduce neuronal noise or by using non-invasive brain stimulation,” Dr Cocchi said. “The team now hopes to explore if brain stimulation can be tailored to the individual to reduce the amount of neural noise they experience and improve symptoms.”

ADHD is the most common mental disorder in children and adolescents in Australia according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

ADHD Australia estimates one in 20 Australians have the disorder, with symptoms including inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

The research was supported by the NHMRC in Australia, and the Ministry of Technology and Science, the National Health Research Institute and National Taiwan University Hospital in Taiwan.

The study findings have been published in the medical journal Molecular Psychiatry.

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