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Children with ADHD, in particular, have different brain function at rest than children without the neurological disorder, according to a national study released this week.

Study of thousands of children with and without attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder highlights key difference: National Institutes of Health A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry Young people with ADHD have more wiring, or networks of neurons, in their brains that make it difficult for their brains to send clear signals about tasks such as following instructions or sitting still.

The findings build on the evidence that teachers or parents may be seeing to explain to professionals how it relates to the symptoms of ADHD. Basically, the researchers found that children with ADHD have hyper-connected wiring that makes it difficult for their brains to transmit a given signal.

“These are regions of the brain that we know are important for controlling impulsive behavior and controlling attention,” said lead scientist Luke Norman. National Institute of Mental Health And the study’s author told USA TODAY. “These networks appear to be dysfunctional in ADHD.”

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Previous studies of brain function in people with ADHD have involved small groups, typically fewer than 100 participants. None of them have definitive information to identify the parts of the brain affected by ADHD, a neurodevelopmental disorder in which a person has trouble paying attention and staying still.

The NIH study used six different datasets of thousands of children with ADHD characteristics. Outside experts say this large sample size will help understand how the brain works in people with ADHD, although the results were relatively small because people were resting and not awake during the MRI scan.

The study does not examine how ADHD is diagnosed. That’s typically done through assessments that include input from doctors, teachers, and parents. Instead, the findings help identify the symptoms at play in people with mental illness, said Lauren Friedman, assistant professor of psychology. Arizona State UniversityNot related to the study.

About 6 million American children between the ages of 3 and 17 are diagnosed with ADHD, which means that fewer than 10% of young adults are experiencing these challenges. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research shows that genetics play a role in when a child develops ADHD, as well as other factors, including premature birth, low birth weight, lead poisoning, brain damage, and alcohol or tobacco use during pregnancy.

The study looked at scans of more than 8,000 children with an average age of 11. About 1,700 of the children had ADHD. .and more than 6,700, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, All the children were asleep in the MRI machine , with their eyes open, when the image of their brain is taken.

Among children with ADHD, researchers have increased wiring in the brain’s frontal cortex, the area that controls attention and controls unwanted behaviors, with structures deep in the brain that deal with information processing. This part of the brain is where learning happens. It is also where one creates movement and experiences emotion. Children with ADHD have more connections between these two parts of their brains, but that doesn’t mean that symptoms come easily. Instead, the highly connected cable led to what the study called “switched connectivity.”

NIH researcher Norman said the images build on earlier research. For example, when children with ADHD play attention-seeking and impulse-control games, brain scans show that they have trouble making the neural connections to perform the tasks. The study seems to confirm the same results even when a person is resting.

The findings hold little brain activity in people with ADHD. Norman says more research is needed on how children with ADHD engage in different activities and how children with the disorder develop. The study does not reflect children in the entire US population, the researchers noted. In the study, more than 15% of children with ADHD came from families with incomes above $200,000, and two-thirds of those diagnosed with ADHD were male.

Sarah Karalunas, associate professor of psychology at Purdue UniversityThe study found that children with ADHD are more difficult than their peers to control their emotions and attention, which helps to create a brain difference.

For his next study, Norman plans to look at how children experience these brain connections. The goal, he said, is to bring work to find treatments to change how the brain works.