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Hand Movements May Give Clues to ADHD Severity
Date:2/14/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Measuring hand-movement control in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may reveal insights into the brain-based differences of those with the condition, according to two new studies.

In joint research, scientists from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore performed sequential finger-tapping experiments on youngsters with ADHD, noting that they exhibited more than twice the amount of unintentional extra or "overflow" movements than typical children on one of the two measures used.

The researchers also used a device emitting magnetic pulses to children with the disorder to measure cortical inhibition -- the brain's "braking system." They found that children with ADHD were 40 percent less able than typical children to inhibit resulting hand movements.

"We now have a real, quantifiable measure of a problem with controlling behavior in these children," said Dr. Stewart Mostofsky, senior author of the finger-tapping study and director of the Laboratory for Neurocognitive and Imaging Research at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

"From a clinical standpoint, the critical issue is ... they do have differences with these aspects of normal motor control," Mostofsky said, noting that these variations can affection handwriting, keyboard use and other fine motor skills. "We have to recognize that and account for that in considering how to work with children with ADHD."

Affecting about 8 percent of American children, ADHD is a developmental disorder characterized by inattentiveness, impulsiveness and/or hyperactivity. According to recent studies, two-thirds of those with ADHD also struggle with other mental health and developmental conditions such as anxiety and learning disabilities.

Mostofsky's study examined 50 right-handed children ages 8 to 13, including 25 wit
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