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Alterations in the brain's reward system related to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
Date:2/3/2010

f 84 participants aged 6 to 18 years and divided them according to presence of ADHD symptoms, with one experimental group of 42 children with ADHD and one control group of 42 children with no signs of mental or behavioural anomalies, paired by sex and age. Magnetic resonance images were taken of all participants to view the structure of their brains. Of these images, the cerebral region corresponding to the ventral striatum, which includes the nucleus accumbens, was demarcated.

Differences in the structure of the ventral striatum - particularly on the right-hand side - could be seen between those with ADHD and those without the disorder. Children with ADHD exhibited reduced volumes in this region. These differences were associated with symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

The obtained data corroborate results from previous studies carried out with animals: the importance of the reward system, as well as the relation between nucleus accumbens, impulsive behaviour and the development of motor hyperactivity. This leads researchers to consider that ADHD is not only caused by brain alterations affecting cognitive processes, but also by anomalies which cause motivational deficiencies. This would explain the imbalance in levels of attention and hyperactivity in a child with ADHD depending on his or her motivation when engaged in a specific task and the immediacy of the gratification/pleasure while carrying it out.


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Contact: Maria Jesus Delgado
MariaJesus.Delgado@uab.cat
34-935-814-049
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Source:Eurekalert

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