Brain Function May Explain ADHD Symptoms - FamilyEducation

Brain Function May Explain ADHD Symptoms

February 22,2011

Two new studies in the journal Neurology explore how brain functions relating to motor control are related to certain ADHD symptoms, and may offer new potential treatments that target the brain's inhibitory systems.

Although this research isn't new, it does support past research that suggests kids with ADHD have motor control problems.

The first study showed that kids (mostly boys) with ADHD tend to exhibit "mirror movements". Mirror movements mean when one side of your body moves, the other side mimics the same movement. Although these movements are common in young children, they usually stop when they reach school age. The boys in the study who were exhibiting mirror movements were between the ages of 8 and 13.

The second study found that kids with ADHD have a less efficient "braking system". Their brain circuitry that is responsible for stopping them from acting impulsively didn't function as well as children who didn't have ADHD.

Researchers used a techinique called transcranial magnetic stimulation. It uses a magnetic field to cause changes in the electrical activity in the brain, and allows researchers to measure any inhibition that might be there. In this study, they found kids with ADHD were more likely to have "braking" problems, which gives a neurological explanation to what kids with ADHD experience in school.

Although both studies were relatively small (both had under 100 participants), the findings can still help researchers find new treatment options for ADHD. It also has the potential to lead to subtyping ADHD based on different underlying brain functions for different groups.

What do you think about these studies? Do you think it is exciting new reserach that might lead to new ADHD treatments, or do you think they just summarize what we already know about this disorder?