Some of you might have caught wind of some Australian researchers who have shown that AD/HD brains are different than the brains of people without AD/HD finally offering proof that AD/HD exists. This is not new news. There has been study after study analyzing the difference between brains for many, many years. And STILL, I run into people who say AD/HD is not real. They all have their reasons for their opinion. Most of their reasons do not have any scientific research to back them up.

What is great about the actual paper written by Dr. Helen Boon from the James Cook University in Australia is that she did a huge meta-analysis of many studies on AD/HD. The basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum, grey matter, white matter, and corpus callosum have all shown differences in AD/HD brains as compared neurotypical brains in research studies. Neural circuitry differences also exist affecting many areas of functionality with implications in the areas of executive functioning, organization, reward processing, emotional inhibition, timing, reward processing, motivation, novel problem solving, and decision making.

Here is a link to her actual paper: http://bit.ly/23t9OjP

Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the paper’s discussion section:

“This literature review has outlined findings emerging from MRI and fMRI neuroimaging studies of individuals with ADHD compared to matched control subjects. The evidence it provides indicates that individuals with ADHD have distinct anatomical differences in their brains compared to control individuals as well as functional differences in mental processing. These differences appear to parallel observed behavioural differences. The reviewed studies also show ADHD can persist into adulthood, as reflected in statistical determinations of the prevalence of ADHD. These studies highlighting differences in brain morphology in ADHD support the view that ADHD has biological antecedents rather than being a mere manifestation of sociological factors, poor behavioural control or parenting (Hinshaw, 2005). Even if a persisting belief remains that ADHD symptoms are indicative of home discipline patterns or some similar socially constructed aetiology, a hypothesis that is yet to be verified by longitudinal studies but one which is possible given the brain’s plasticity, it is clear that students with ADHD need to have access to special educational provision through the public education system under the Disabilities Act, like others with disabilities such as hearing impairment or autism.”

I encourage you to actually read the paper. You will be astounded by the amount of solid research that has actually been done and the differences scientists find over and over again distinguishing a brain with and without AD/HD symptoms. The paper also helps to explain the importance of intervention and how exploiting the brain’s plasticity can help children with AD/HD make important strides in improving their condition.

Science is our friend. We should look to the actual research, not the media’s interpretation of it. If you need help finding research or have a question about a study, you know where to find me: kim@inspiredattention.com. I will always try to help you distinguish good research from not so great interpretations of research. Go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ to search for actual studies on the brain or medical topics. FYI – your college students probably have access to their universities research libraries! Also, a great place to hunt for studies.

Please, note, how the American Psychiatric Association defines AD/HD and breaks it into categories going forward is subject to anyone’s guess. They may even give AD/HD a new name or multiple names based on the new technology available to look at what is really happening in someone’s brain. This is irrelevant to the fact that people who currently are diagnosed according to the DSM-V with AD/HD do have strong scientific research to support their diagnosis as medical, meaning AD/HD is not a character flaw or a result of bad parenting or even a conspiracy to sell more medication. AD/HD has it’s roots in the brain. I am not discarding the relevance of one’s environment–nature and nurture are important here. I am just emphasizing AD/HD is a real medical diagnosis, and it is time it was taken seriously so those impacted by AD/HD can get the help and support they deserve.

The 2E Newsletter published by Mark Bade and Linda Neumann does an excellent job at keeping up with the latest research on AD/HD and a number of other challenges including autism, dyslexia, depression, anxiety, giftedness and twice-exceptionality, to name only a few. They are very thorough in their bimonthly publications as well as their monthly news blasts on everything that has been published on a topic. Subscribe, you will not be disappointed. www.2enewsletter.com