Latest Articles from the Blog

What is the Edison gene?

Posted by on Jun 28, 2016 in Attention/ADHD | 1 comment

The Edison gene may end up saving the human race.   “The genetic form of this disorder is not really a disorder at all.” Dr. James Swanson – University of California, Irvine The Edison Gene   In his book, The Edison Gene – ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child, Thom Hartmann offers a fascinating account of why ADHD is so prevalent in our culture today. Just as interesting is his proposal that the Edison gene may turn out to be the key to humanity’s survival. What is the Edison Gene? “There is no such thing as a specific gene for alcoholism, obesity, or a particular type of personality. However, it would be naive to assert the opposite, that these aspects of behavior are not associated with any particular genes. Rather, the issue at hand is to understand how certain genes and behavioral traits are connected.” Dr. Kenneth Blum The Edison gene is not simply one gene, but rather refers to many genes that work together to produce “Edison-like traits.” As of 2003 (the year this book was published), there were 49 genes linked to ADHD. Thom names them after Thomas Edison who almost certainly would have been diagnosed with ADHD in today’s world. Mostly these are Dopamine related genes like DRD4, DRD5, and SLC6A3 (genes that make dopamine receptors and transporters), but there are also genes related to norepinephrine and serotonin functioning too. Variants of these genes have been correlated to different traits. Here is Thom Hartmanns list: […] Read more…

ADHD Neurotransmitters

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

Let’s continue our exploration of the biology of ADHD by now turning to ADHD neurotransmitters (NT). ADHD Neurotransmitter regulation is very complex ADHD Neurostransmitters The general impression with ADHD is that the dopamine systems are not working right, especially when needed during concentration. Additionally, the neurotransmitter norepinephrine is also suspected by some to be involved as well. This is not a single problem in the biology of ADHD, but rather the end result of a number of things that can go awry at multiple levels of NT regulation: not enough substrate to make the NT abnormalities of the enzymes needed to make the NT lack of co-factors needed to support the enzymes (ie. iron, magnesium, zinc) problems with the transport systems involved (for both release and re-uptake) problems with the nerve endings cell membranes (ie. OM-3 deficiency) toxins that can affect any of these systems   It is important to say that ADHD symptoms do not correlate with blood levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, but rather reflect local dysregulation of these neurotransmitter (NT) systems in specific regions of the brain. The different constellation of symptoms we see probably reflect the fact that different regions are affected differently in different kids. Different dopamine-using brain regions For example, attention is usually more open in children like “Ryan” (read more about him here). These children are less able to filter out distracting stimuli. But other children become overly focused, and are instead unable to task switch easily without becoming very frustrated. And yet […] Read more…

Biology of ADHD

Posted by on May 10, 2016 in Attention/ADHD | 0 comments

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…