Latest Articles from the Blog

Biology of ADHD

Posted by on May 10, 2016 in Attention/ADHD | 1 comment

Last week we met “Ryan.”   Read more about “Ryan” here   “Ryan” is a case of classic ADHD with hyperactivity if we were to use the standard labels. In review, he had the core ADHD symptoms of inattention, distractibility, disorganization, hyperactivity, restlessness, and impulsivity. But is this just his personality? Is this just how he is built? And if he is “built” this way, is this necessarily a problem? Do we need to do anything about it? And if so, do we need to do it now? Let’s take a look at some of the biology of ADHD. Biology of ADHD What do we see when we look into the biology of ADHD? In this post and the next we will explore findings from brain imaging, studies of neurotransmitter systems, and genetics. Lets start by looking at some of the brain findings. Many studies have been done comparing the brains of children diagnosed with ADHD (agreeably a very heterogenous group) with non-ADHD controls. In general, children with ADHD tend to have smaller cortical volumes in the frontal cortex when studied with MRI (magnetic resonance imagery). This matches many of the symptoms we see. The frontal cortex — particularly the prefrontal cortex — is involved with executive function and higher aspects of self-regulation and attention. But it is important to stress that these are only averages. Not every kid with ADHD is going to have smaller frontal areas, and not every “normal” child will have larger volumes. Put another way, […] Read more…

Classic ADHD

Posted by on May 7, 2016 in Attention/ADHD | 0 comments

“Ryan” is 9 years old and has alot of energy. Does he have classic ADHD?   “Ryan” is a bright, beautiful handful (disclaimer: this photo is not really “Ryan”)   His teachers say he is easily distracted and often obstinate with them (although, when you ask his swim coach, he doesn’t think that this is true). Ryan has trouble paying attention in most classes, but has no problems tinkering with bikes and lawn mowers for hours. He also can play video games for long periods (when allowed to). His room is very messy. Ryan can be very impulsive and often doesn’t pay attention to how his actions affect others or his own future. He doesn’t track his homework well, but gets great test scores — A’s and B’s mostly. Ryan’s teachers say he should be tested for ADHD  (guess what their Vanderbilt scores are likely to show), but mom is a little confused. She has heard from others that “he has a lot of energy, but he is a good kid and will probably outgrow it.” Ryan’s parent do think this just may be his temperament and that things may be OK with time. But they also see some potential problems: he is not getting good grades in school, he is sometimes making people at school mad at him, and he is getting more and more frustrated. He seems to be in conflict with others a lot and is increasingly feeling like he doesn’t belong. Mom and dad wish he would […] Read more…

7 Types of ADHD

Posted by on Apr 27, 2016 in Attention/ADHD | 1 comment

According to Dr. Daniel Amen, there are 7 types of ADHD.   7 Types of ADHD – SPECT scans Dr. Amen — a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist — has been studying brains with SPECT scans for over 25 years. His body of his research is truly impressive with over 80,000 scans done at his clinics, and nearly 20,000 of these done on people with ADHD symptoms. SPECT (“single photon emission computed tomography”) is a nuclear medicine study that evaluates blood flow and activity patterns to different parts of the brain. It helps identify what areas are under-active, normo-active, and/or over-active. Dr. Amen found — consistent with other research at the time — that a majority of people with ADHD symptoms had decreased prefrontal activity when they tried to concentrate their attention. But he soon realized that ADHD was not one thing caused by one abnormality in the brain. He saw many different patterns of activity that matched symptoms discovered on his questionnaires (about 80% of the time you could predict the scan if you took a detailed history). As a result, he has identified 7 types of ADHD. 7 Types of ADHD Here is thumbnail sketch of the 7 types of ADHD: (Here I will only be providing the symptoms and scans of each type. But stay tuned for future blogs where I will expand upon their description from other keen observers, as well as begin to talk about the different modes of treatment that work best with […] Read more…