Academic journal article The Science Teacher

ADHD-Late Brain Maturation

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

ADHD-Late Brain Maturation

Article excerpt

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, according to an imaging study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). 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 (youth with ADHD and the control group) showed a similar back-to-front wave of brain maturation.

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"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," explains Philip Shaw of the NIMH Child Psychiatry Branch, who led the research team.

The researchers focused on the age when cortex thickening during childhood gives way to thinning following puberty, as unused neural connections are pruned for optimal efficiency during the teen years. In both ADHD and control groups, sensory processing and motor control areas at the back and top of the brain peaked in thickness earlier in childhood, while the frontal cortex areas responsible for higher-order executive control functions peaked later, during the teen years. …

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