Brain Basis for Differences in ADHD Identified

Some recent research out of MIT has interesting implications for the understanding and treatment of ADHD. The research demonstrates that it takes one part of the brain to concentrate and another to be distracted. The part that pays willful attention to tasks is right behind the forehead, towards the front of the brain. The part that notices sudden changes in the environment is located in the parietal cortex, towards the back of the brain.

This reflects what many of us already knew from our own experience: some people with ADHD have a harder time focusing, while others have a harder time filtering out distractions. And, of course, some struggle with both.

Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led the study which was published in the journal Science March 29th 2007. He had this to say about implications for treatment of ADHD:

The downside of most psychiatric drugs is they are too broad. It’s like hitting the problem with a sledgehammer; you get the benefits but also many unintended consequences. Our work suggests that we may one day be able to figure out what is the exact problem with each individual and specifically target those shortcomings.

You can find the website for the journal Science here, and more about Miller’s research here. Laura Neergaard wrote about this study for the Associated Press. Go here for her article.