Functional brain changes in children with ADHD leads the way to early diagnosis

Findings from a recent study examining the brain processes of 18 children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder aged between 9 and 15 years and 18 children the same ages not diagnosed with the disorder, fundamental differences were found which could be used in the future to diagnose the condition early.

The child participants of the study undertook attention, visual interpretation and memory tests while in a brain scanner that uses functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to examine brain processes and specific area activation.

The researchers reported that the brain activation and processing pathways was different for children diagnosed with ADHD when they were completing tasks that required the processing of visual attentional information. Fundamentally children with ADHD had less activation in regions of the brain known to be involved with working memory and sustained visual concentration.

The research findings were presented at the annual meeting of the North American Radiological Society last week. It was reported that if further study of the brain patterns in children diagnosed with ADHD show the same processing patterns in other attentional tasks, the specific changes in brain processes could be use as an early indicator to diagnose the disorder. However it was noted that first, research needs to be undertaken to ensure that the particular bran patterns found to be at play in children with ADHD are not the same as other behavioural disorders and thus misdiagnosis could not occur.

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