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Children With ADHD Show Brain Differences

Study shows chemical imbalances only partly explain disorder

MONDAY, Nov. 29, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have abnormal brain anatomy in addition to imbalances in brain chemistry.

That's the claim of a study presented Nov. 29 at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago.

"Typically, ADHD is described as a chemical imbalance, but our research has shown that there may also be subtle anatomical differences in areas of the brain that are important in this disorder," co-principal investigator Dr. Sanjiv Kumra, a psychiatrist at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., said in a prepared statement.

"We found abnormality of the fiber pathways in the frontal cortex, basal ganglia, brain stem and cerebellum," said study author Manzar Ashtari, an associate professor of radiology and psychiatry at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in Hyde Park, N.Y.

"These areas are involved in the processes that regulate attention, impulsive behavior, motor activity and inhibition -- the key symptoms in ADHD children. They are also known to be part of a bigger circuit in the brain that establishes communication between the frontal lobe and cerebellum," Ashtari said in a prepared statement.

The researchers used diffusion tensor imaging to compare the brains of 18 children with ADHD and 15 children without the disorder.

A second study by the same research team found that stimulant medications used to balance brain chemistry in children with ADHD normalize some of these brain abnormalities.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about ADHD.

SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, news release, Nov. 29, 2004
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