People who have ADHD have slightly smaller brains than average, new research finds.
There was also evidence in the brains of those with ADHD for delayed development.
Dr Martine Hoogman, the study’s first author, said:
“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.
We hope that this will help to reduce stigma that ADHD is ‘just a label’ for difficult children or caused by poor parenting.”
The research compared the brains of 1,713 people with ADHD with 1,529 normal controls.
ADHD is characterised by:
- impulsiveness or hyperactivity,
- and serious problems maintaining attention on one task.
Many children continue to experience the symptoms of ADHD into adulthood.
The study found that in ADHD the overall brain volume was slightly lower, as was the volume in certain key areas of the brain.
Dr Hoogman explained:
“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.
Similar differences in brain volume are also seen in other psychiatric disorders, especially major depressive disorder.”
The study was published in The Lancet Psychiatry (Hoogman et al., 2017).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Shiny brain image from Shutterstock