View Full Version : Delayed maturation in brains of children with ADHD

11-13-07, 12:30 PM
Here's an AP article as reported today in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Brain differences seen in children who have ADHD: A study finds a lag in maturation. It could explain why many outgrow the condition.

By Randolph E. Schmid Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Crucial parts of brains of children with ADHD develop slower than other youngsters' brains, a phenomenon that earlier imaging research missed, a new study says.

The lag can be as much as three years for regions of the brain that suppress inappropriate actions and thoughts, focus attention, remember things from moment to moment, work for reward and control movement, researchers reported online yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Finding a normal pattern of cortex maturation, albeit delayed, in children with ADHD should be reassuring to families and could help to explain why many youth eventually seem to grow out of the disorder," Philip Shaw of the National Institute of Mental Health, who led this most detailed study of the problem to date, said in a statement.

Not all children outgrow attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, however. Coauthor Judith Rapoport, also of the institute's Child Psychiatry Branch, said the researchers are working to determine the differences between those who have a good outcome and those who do not.

Between 3 percent and 5 percent of school-age children are thought to have ADHD.
Louis J. Kraus, chief of child psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said "what is really important about this study is it shows us there is clearly something biologically driven for children with ADHD."

Kraus, who was not part of the research team, said that with this finding no one can argue that children are making it up: "We don't know what the meaning is yet, whether it would change any type of treatment, but it is showing that there is something biologically different."

In an interview, Kraus emphasized that parents should not rush out to get a scan of their child's brain or any other study to support a diagnosis.

Shaw agreed: "Brain imaging is still not ready for use as a diagnostic tool in ADHD. Although the delay in cortex development was marked, it could only be detected when a very large number of children with the disorder were included. It is not yet possible to detect such delay from the brain scans of just one individual."

The research team used scans to measure the cortex thickness at 40,000 points in the brains of 223 children with ADHD and 223 others who were developing in a typical way. The scans were repeated two, three or four times at three-year intervals.

Slowest to mature in ADHD children were parts of the front and side of the brain that integrate information from the sensory areas with the higher-order functions. One area lagged five years in those with the disorder.

One part of the brain - the motor cortex - matured faster in the ADHD children, a finding the researchers said might account for the restlessness and fidgety symptoms common among those with the disorder.
There’s a lot that’s significant in there, including the much more realistic take on the utility of imaging in its current form. Perhaps the most meaningful for us is the remarkably neutral stance on the nature of the observed differences: there’s no apparent assumption that they necessarily represent a defect in the AD/HD group.

We can explain the differences in other ways, of course, and we’re on record here and elsewhere as expecting exactly these results.

Some flawed background assumptions about the basic nature of high level neural function remain embedded (“…regions of the brain that suppress inappropriate actions and thoughts,…” &etc.), but even that’s more muted than we’re accustomed to seeing.

The assumption that the observed differences represent abnormal development should be easily challenged. We plan to contact the authors of the paper with our initial comments in a few days, once any potential flood of email in response to the AP article subsides. We’ll keep the forum posted, if there’s any response.

11-13-07, 12:49 PM
Is it possible to correct the problem which runs through this study and many others - of ADHD as a disorder (because of failure of ADD children to sit down,shut up and pay attention)
- without a model for mind.

Apparently ADHD and associated 'disorders' - are at an all time high - here in Cambridge - and Cambridge is a kinda' weird Island of nothing (really) other than academicky activities -
- I've just heard that some classes in our local school (5 - 12 year age range) - have over 50% of the entire class as carrying an official diagnosis of ADHD, Aspergers, Dyslexia (and associateds) - and in the same sentence (by a friend) - that Stephen Hawkings has a (son or grandson) with learning difficulties -

- I have this earnest belief that a model for mind'll make the single largest contribution that one could ever envisage (to man)
- because the 'silliness' will be revealed as a divine black comedy - where the context for that phrase'd be towards the notion of a hardwired incapacity to see the blatantly obvious.

11-13-07, 01:22 PM
Is it possible to correct the problem which runs through this study and many others - of ADHD as a disorder (because of failure of ADD children to sit down,shut up and pay attention)
- without a model for mind(?)
Probably not. But since we all have one, and everybody is subject to the same changes in the species that we believe ‘causes’ AD/HD, the change in tone in this article probably means such a model is in fact coming into existence, right when and where it’s needed most.

Kay and I have a little game, loosely based on a bit from the movie Broadcast News:

We say it here, and it comes out there.

Often, if we can see a pattern, all it takes to crystallize it in the common perception is a bit of effort to formalize it on our part. We’ve seen this on numerous occasions, across a variety of subjects, and here it seems as if it’s beginning to happen again.

It’s certainly true that we’ve beat to death our objections to the biases in AD/HD research, here and elsewhere. But we seldom directly approach those in the research community, and when we have we seldom get any response.

Nevertheless, here’s an example of a moderation of the core viewpoint about AD/HD and imaging studies in particular, with hints of other changes as well. We’re encouraged.

11-14-07, 11:12 AM
... if the cortex reaches the same {size,volume,cell number} (in ADDers) and is represented by a more complex network of neurones within ADDer - then I'd guess that the ADDer mind'd have reached its new 'better state' - where 'better' is defined under
information-handling capacity
- is what I'm getting at - particularly interesting -
- then -
- this synopsis aligned against another set of studies which you referenced a coupla' years or so back on this site -
the observation that overall brain volume (cortical size) appeared smaller in ADDer youngsters -

which now must be re-interpreted -

- it's interesting how the scientific method delivers conclusions which're shrouded in air of certainty - conclusions often (later) - shown to be an error in some part of the researcher's train of thought -
intentionally or unintentionally misleading?

- and then we repeat the same basic error; thus spake scientist.

With hindsight - we're not surprised by the errors of scientists who were just *so* sure (back then)
- however we witness our current swathe of scientists - falling into the same trap right now - this is the way that it is ; thus spake scientist.

Tammy mentioned that personal gain introduces insidious bias into a scientists work -
so ... intentionally or unintentionally misleading?

... also a couple of years back - your comments on the ADDF 'Dr Amen' thread are seen here to be corroborated by mainstream report -

'Kraus emphasized that parents should not rush out to get a scan of their child's brain or any other study to support a diagnosis.'
I think perhaps a model for mind which defines science as a belief system might be necessary (arising as it does from a :-)
model for mind) -
- should that be 'the model for mind'
(the level of certainty underlying usage of 'the' requires insertion of an 'IN MY PANTS' clause)

a model for mind which defines science as a belief system
- which repositions the aspirational core of science as subservient to man, and not as tool to usurp god ...
... which teaches the scientist humility and which'd permit us to strive towards making things better for one and all ... ...

... ... instead of current usage
as agent for division,
partition securing some fool's gold.

How dumb is that?
very - and since Science is not dumb - what does that make us?

11-14-07, 12:26 PM
I think perhaps a model for mind which defines science as a belief system might be necessary (arising as it does from a :-)
model for mind)
…but we have such a model, in the form of the map of ‘fact space’ that we’ve described on occasion.

Recall we define the Universe of all facts (for want of a more difficult term) in which we define three types of regions: stuff we already know about, stuff we don’t yet know about, but which is possible to know, and stuff about which by its nature we can never have knowledge.

The areas covered by what we currently know are constantly growing, ill-defined at the edges, and not necessarily contiguous. In terms of mind (and brain, if you wish) these areas map the neural models with which we represent the external Universe. Note there is an implicit sense of commonality; that is, we assume all human knowledge can validly be represented in a single map, regardless of whether all humans possess a particular model.

The only way the mind can deal with the unknown (and perhaps unknowable) remaining areas is through belief. Thus, knowledge and belief are clearly mutually exclusive: as we gain knowledge about a certain area, belief no longer applies.

The areas that cannot be known (for whatever reason) are therefore the exclusive province of belief, organized, systematic, dogmatic or otherwise. You want to talk about these places, you are going to have to do it in (at least quasi-) religious terms.

That’s not necessarily true about places that are possible to know, and here is where things can get a bit mixed up from time to time. Once a strong belief system stakes claim to some (as yet) unknown territory on this map, it can be difficult to convince those practicing said system that it has been conquered, understood, modeled more-or-less adequately, and is by definition no longer subject to belief.

So where does science fit into this picture? Clearly, it’s the formal process by which we claim ever-larger areas of the map, converting belief to common knowledge. As such, science will never be far from belief, and depends on it to identify new areas to conquer. We have to believe something about where we want to go, in order to formulate a cogent plan of attack. (Random methods do work, of course, but they’re a better choice for Nature than Man due to the enormous number of experiments necessary.)

Lest this ‘map’ seem too simplistic a concept to be of much use, I should point out that it provides a framework in which we automatically include all of the influences on the choices we make when we decide to study some as yet unknown area, every aspect of how we carry out that study, and so on. It implicitly represents the entire mind of the species, the store of neural models that represent everything ever known.

And as such, it clearly includes what we know or can know about mind itself. No element of the map is independent on any other; even if some area is completely isolated, an island unto itself, the models represented must meet correctly when we bridge the gap and join it to the greater mass of what we know.

That idea you should recognize: it’s the partial representation (in the ‘fact space’ the map inhabits) of the idea of ‘enforced moral consistency’, which comes from a completely different discussion. The rest must be in there as well, stuff like the metamodel web and the logical property relative metalevel, and the highly evolved, shared models of RRReality for which SB hisself coined the term 'an intimately converged web’.

Which Kay has lately taken to calling 'the ICW’, for short…

11-14-07, 03:12 PM
... ... ... ICBM(s) straight from the heart.


11-17-07, 05:27 PM
Is it just me or is deciphering one of SB_UK posts like doing a cryptic crossword ? ( :) no offence intended)

11-17-07, 06:13 PM
I had a VERY quick look over the paper and correct me if I'm wrong but it appears the authors have not included information on whether the subjects were previously medicated.
F#*# !! I wish researchers would state this clearly in all papers on ADHD, it screams out for criticism and conspiracy theorists !!! :mad:

Matt S.
11-28-07, 04:41 PM
I posted a post that was to this effect last month

Some differences, getting to the same point.

03-11-08, 08:16 AM
Thank you for the articles. On one of my recent visits to the psycologist with my daughter he mentioned that there were recent studies showing that some kids " grow out of their ADD/ADHD ". Thanks for shedding some light.

I'm not holding my breath that my children will "Out Grow" their ADHD as I didn't. They will grow out of some trouble areas as I did but they will still have to learn to adapt to the world differently inorder to get by and function just as I did.