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Inside the adult ADHD brain
Date:6/10/2014

CAMBRIDGE, MA -- About 11 percent of school-age children in the United States have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While many of these children eventually "outgrow" the disorder, some carry their difficulties into adulthood: About 10 million American adults are currently diagnosed with ADHD.

In the first study to compare patterns of brain activity in adults who recovered from childhood ADHD and those who did not, MIT neuroscientists have discovered key differences in a brain communication network that is active when the brain is at wakeful rest and not focused on a particular task. The findings offer evidence of a biological basis for adult ADHD and should help to validate the criteria used to diagnose the disorder, according to the researchers.

Diagnoses of adult ADHD have risen dramatically in the past several years, with symptoms similar to those of childhood ADHD: a general inability to focus, reflected in difficulty completing tasks, listening to instructions, or remembering details.

"The psychiatric guidelines for whether a person's ADHD is persistent or remitted are based on lots of clinical studies and impressions. This new study suggests that there is a real biological boundary between those two sets of patients," says MIT's John Gabrieli, the Grover M. Hermann Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and an author of the study, which appears in the June 10 issue of the journal Brain.

Shifting brain patterns

This study focused on 35 adults who were diagnosed with ADHD as children; 13 of them still have the disorder, while the rest have recovered. "This sample really gave us a unique opportunity to ask questions about whether or not the brain basis of ADHD is similar in the remitted-ADHD and persistent-ADHD cohorts," says Aaron Mattfeld, a postdoc at MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the paper's lea
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Contact: Sarah McDonnell
s_mcd@mit.edu
617-253-8923
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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