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A New Way Of Looking At ADHD

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, September 09, 2009 12:00 PM EST
Category: Miscellaneous
Tags: ADHD, Ritalin, Adderal, Concerta, Attention Deficit, Dopamine

ADHD is not necessarily willful defiance or inattention, but low levels of chemicals that determine motivation and reward.


IMAGE SOURCE: Drug company logo/ Kevin Miller’s World blog

Not Willful Defiance

A published study finds that people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) lack certain key proteins that allow them to experience a sense of reward and motivation.

The study comes out of the Brookhaven National Laboratory and appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

This is the first time that ADHD has been looked at outside of the area of attention, hyperactivity, and deliberately willful defiance.

Researcher Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says, “These deficits in the brain’s reward system may help explain clinical symptoms of ADHD, including inattention and reduced motivation as well as the propensity for complications such as drug abuse and obesity among ADHD patients.”

Using a PET scan (positron emission tomography), researchers looked at the brain scans of 53 adults with ADHD who had never received treatment, and compared them to 44 people without the condition.

They found that ADHD patients had lower levels of two proteins – dopamine receptors and transporters, making it much more difficult for dopamine to function. The patients had lower levels in two key areas of the brain, the nucleus accumbens and midbrain, which are responsible for emotions, including the feeling of motivation and reward.

It might also explain why ADHD patients turn to drugs to compensate for a deficient reward system, reports BBC.

And the research may explain why recent studies have found that ADHD children failed to respond to a reward system.

Professor Katya Rubia, of London's Institute of Psychiatry, said: "This study widens our horizons. It shows that ADHD is not just about abnormalities in the attention systems of the brain, but also abnormalities in the motivation and emotion centres.”

And the research might provide a wake-up call for teachers to offer activities that intensely engage children in the classroom. ADHD children usually find they can focus when they becomes absorbed in a task, such as computer games.

Between eight and 12 percent of children are diagnosed with ADHD, as well as four percent of adults.

Stimulants increase the amount of dopamine in the brain and this research confirms that stimulant medication is a positive way to treat ADHD.

The Other Side of the Medication Issue

ADHD medications include Adderal, Concerta, Stattera, Ritalin, Focalin, Cylert, Provigil, among others, and are stimulants that are known to interfere with sleep and for some cause a loss of appetite.

Filmmaker, Kevin Miller, and producer of a 2008 documentary on the subject, Generation Rx, says those are not the only side effects and parents are not getting the entire story.

“The fact of the matter is the science is shoddy and anything but scientific,” he says to IB News.

Miller says the research that went into his film shows that ADHD is over diagnosed and that the media has been complicit in selling the ADHD story as credible for more than 20 years. #

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