Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is described as a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental type. Its symptoms including the inability to pay attention or to focus, are pointed out as behavior problems. However, according to a new study, ADHD is more of a physical issue. Experts said, people with ADHD have slightly smaller brains than those without the condition.
"The results from our study confirm that people with ADHD have differences in their brain structure and therefore suggest that ADHD is a disorder of the brain," said the study's lead author, Martine Hoogman of Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.
Past studies which associated changes in brain volume with ADHD had been too small to be conclusive (c) hcpthink.com
"We hope that this will help to reduce stigma that ADHD is 'just a label' for difficult children or caused by poor parenting," she said in a statement.
The findings, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, involved 1,713 people with ADHD and 1,529 people without the condition.
When the researchers measured overall brain volume as well as the size of seven regions thought to be linked to the disorder, they learned that the overall volume was smaller in people diagnosed with ADHD, as were five of the brain regions.
"These differences are very small—in the range of a few percent—so the unprecedented size of our study was crucial to help identify these," Hoogman said.
When you meet people who also have ADHD
"Similar differences in brain volume are also seen in other psychiatric disorders, especially major depressive disorder."
According to the researchers, differences in the brain's size were most prominent in children, but also present in adults with the condition. The amygdala, the part of the brain involved in the regulation of emotion was also affected. The experts suggest, the delays in the development of several brain regions may be due to ADHD.
On the other hand, there were no difference between people who were taking or had taken ADHD drugs, and those who had never taken such medications. Meaning, that the brain changes were not caused by psychostimulants, which are drugs used for ADHD.