ADHD is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, affecting approximately 6 million American children aged 3 to 17 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children with the disorder may be overly active or have trouble paying attention.
Huang Lin, a post-graduate researcher at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, who was a co-author of the study, stated, “There is a need for a more objective methodology for a diagnosis that is more efficient and reliable.”
The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States, provided the MRI data used by the researchers. “The demographics of our group mirror the U.S. population, making our results clinically applicable to the general population,” Lin stated.
7,805 patients, including 1,798 with ADHD, were included in Lin’s study group after exclusions.
Lin stated, “We found changes in almost all of the brain regions we investigated.” Given that numerous previous studies have identified changes in specific brain regions, the pervasiveness throughout the entire brain was surprising.
The researchers found significant microstructural changes in the white matter, particularly in the frontal lobe of the brain, abnormal connectivity in the brain networks involved in memory and auditory processing, a thinning of the brain cortex, and ADHD patients.
According to Lin, the study’s population-level data reassures that the MRI biomarkers provide a solid picture of the brain.
Lin stated, “Object brain MRI scans can help to clearly identify affected children when a clinical diagnosis is in doubt.”
He stated, Our study provides novel multimodal neuroimaging biomarkers as potential therapeutic targets in these children.
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