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A test for ADHD

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Researchers may have found a new biomarker for children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) they have identified abnormalities in the brains of children with ADHD.

Since ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders affecting up to 8% of all school children, interest in early and accurate diagnosis couldn’t be more important. Symptoms include impulsivity, lack of focus, inattention and hyperactive behavior that go beyond what one would expect from children who are developing normally. These symptoms affect a child’s ability to learn and socialize.

So far, there has been no single test to help parents and doctors with a diagnosis. Often children are incorrectly labeled ADHD or those who are ADHD have a missed diagnosis. “Diagnosing ADHD is very difficult because of its wide variety of behavioral symptoms,” said lead research Xiaobo Li, PhD, assistant professor of radiology at the Albert Einstein College of medicine in New York. “Establishing a reliable imaging biomarker of ADHD would be a major contribution to the field. “

For the test, they asked children who were hooked up to the fMRI a series of memory questions and watched their brains react. For the kids with an ADHD diagnosis, they found abnormal functional activity in several regions of the brain involved in the processing visual attention information. They also found that communication among the brain regions within this visual attention-processing pathway was disrupted.

“What this tells us is that children with ADHD are using partially different functional brain pathways to process this information, which may be caused by impaired white matter pathways involved in visual attention information processing,” Li explained.

Source: ScienceDaily, Radiological Society of North America

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