November 15, 2007
ADHD Kids Have Slower Developing Brains

Kids with attention deficit experience brain growth in some areas their brains 3 years later than non-ADHD kids.

In youth with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the brain matures in a normal pattern but is delayed three years in some regions, on average, compared to youth without the disorder, an imaging study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has revealed. The delay in ADHD was most prominent in regions at the front of the brain’s outer mantle (cortex), important for the ability to control thinking, attention and planning. Otherwise, both groups showed a similar back-to-front wave of brain maturation with different areas peaking in thickness at different times (see movie below).

“Finding a normal pattern of cortex maturation, albeit delayed, in children with ADHD should be reassuring to families and could help to explain why many youth eventually seem to grow out of the disorder,” explained Philip Shaw, M.D., NIMH Child Psychiatry Branch, who led research team.

So then maybe all those ADHD boys shouldn't be on Ritalin. Maybe we should let restless boys be restless and not expect them to act like calm girls.

Do ADHD kids who took Ritalin for years demonstrate higher or lower cognitive performance as adults than ADHD kids who do not take Ritalin?

Also, while I'm asking: Do the brains of ADHD kids develop more slowly because of genes, nutrition, or some other reason? I'm guessing it is at least partly genetic.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 November 15 11:33 PM  Brain Development

Marc said at November 16, 2007 3:17 PM:

It's mostly genetic. I think something like 70 percent of parents with ADD have kids with ADD. Which sucks for me because I have ADD and I want kids. It's also highly co-morbid with a host of other neurological disorders, especially tourette's.

I'm not surprised by this study. Growing up I lagged behind my peers a good three years or so when it came to maturity. My sister, who also has ADD, is 32 and still hasn't grown up.

epobirs said at November 17, 2007 1:52 PM:

They must be referring to some nice temporary version of ADD not experienced by anyone of my acquaintance. My mother has it in spades, didn't grow out of it, and passed it on to most of her children. I'm 43 and little appears to have changed cognitively since my days in grade school. I score fairly high (140-150) on IQ tests but have a terrible time functioning in a classroom environment for any substantial period.

Is there any way to distinguish the 'late bloomer' form of ADD from the permanent version? It seems some of us do need the drugs or some other form of intervention if we are to do anything worthwhile with our lives.

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