Brain Scans Show Differences in ADHD Brains

Health Writer

It is a debate that has gone on for years. Are there actual brain functioning differences in those with ADHD? Several studies in recent years, including one released  in September 2014, that answer this question with a  "yes."

In this  study, scientists looked at brain functioning of about 750 children and adolescents, 275 with ADHD and 481 without ADHD. The researchers found that  children with ADHD  have delayed development of certain communication networks in the brain, including networks that control internally-directed thought and externally-directed thoughts. This helps explain why children with ADHD are easily distracted and have trouble focusing.

The study, conducted at the  University of Michigan's Medical School's Department of Psychiatry  and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used MRI scans during resting states so they could analyze the communication between different parts of the brain. The scans were available through a shared network from scientists around the country. Looking specifically at the parts of the brain used during either internally-directed thoughts, such as daydreaming, and externally-directed tasks, such as following directions, the scientists found children and adolescents with ADHD did not have the same level of connections as those without ADHD at the same age.

Previous studies have also found differences in brain functioning in children and adolescents with ADHD. A  study completed in 2012  found that there were delays in the frontal brain regions, which is involved in problem solving, reasoning, planning and emotions. Another  study, released in 2011 found children with ADHD had brain activity abnormalities and disruptions when processing visual attention information. According to the researchers, while many studies focus on impulsiveness, this study showed deviations of brain activity for inattention, which could, with further research, become a tool for diagnosing inattentive ADHD.

Now that the scientists have found specific network communication that is delayed in children with ADHD, the next stage of research can hone in on these specific areas to expand our understanding of ADHD. The researchers hope the information from the study can be further developed to be used as a diagnostic tool and to help with creating more specific treatments.

The researchers at the University of Michigan are currently looking for volunteers, both children and adults up to the age of 35 years old, for follow-up studies. According to the websites, the research study is open until 2016. If you are interested in volunteering, contact the University of Michigan through one of the following ways:

Phone: 734-232-0353


Websites: Children and adolescents:  and for adults between the ages of 18 and 35:

For more information:

What We Learned About ADHD in 2014

Low Iron Levels in the Brain May Help Detect ADHD

ADHD Symptoms: Inattention

How ADHD Symptoms in Children Appear in "Real-Life"

Six Ways to Help Your Child Focus

Eileen is the author ofThe Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD,The Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love,The Essential Guide to Asperger's SyndromeandThe Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.    Follow me on:Facebook: Eileen Bailey,Twitter: @eileenmbailey,Pinterest: ebailey215