So what is it that make those with ADHD have such an outstanding brain?
At this juncture, scientist and researcher believe it is three things that makes up the ADHD brain.
Structure of the brain
Structure: What’s in da’ box, yo’?
The brain has many parts and they all work so well in unison, but once in a while, there is a structural difference in some brains. For instance, in an ADD brain, the prefrontal cortex, better known as the prefrontal lobe, can be smaller than in a non-ADD brain. So, what does that mean in practical terms? Because the prefrontal cortex is considered the Executive Center of the brain, it is quite important. The prefrontal lobe’s job is to pay attention to detail, focus, make decisions, control impulses, organize, and manage time well, to name a few of its tasks. Someone with ADD may have trouble in these areas of functioning. The smaller prefrontal lobe can occur due to some abnormality in utero, such as an accident to the fetus or lack of oxygen to the brain of the fetus.
Genetics: What is in your jeans?
No, not the 501‘s, but the genes that create you which come from your parents. If one or both parents have ADD, it is likely that their offspring will have it as well.
It’s Chemistry, Watson!
Brain chemistry is important in keeping us feeling balanced emotionally. Norepinephrine and Dopamine are two of the brain chemicals we are concerned with in people with ADHD. Networks connecting the prefrontal cortex with other parts of the brain are highly dependent on these two neurotransmitters.(1). They enhance the functioning of the prefrontal cortex by increasing signals to the right receptors. (2)
What’s it all about, Alfie?
Well, this means we need to keep our brain as healthy as possible, by getting enough sleep, eating the right kinds of foods, getting the appropriate amount of exercise and keeping our brain safe. We can do this by minimizing the use of alcohol and caffeine and wearing a helmet when we ride our bikes. We may also be served well by taking medications appropriate to our needs which should only be prescribed by someone who has advanced training in the health and structure of the brain. All of these things together can make for improved brain function and a decrease in ADHD symptoms.
(1,2) ADHD: a Shared Focus Health Care Professional Educational Guide. p.21-22. Shire USA. 2013.
Resources for ADHD:
Driven to Distraction. Edward Hallowell, M.D. 2011
Married to Distraction. Edward Hallowell,M.D. 2011
ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life. Kolberg and Nadeau. 2002
Journeys through ADDulthood. Sari Solden. 2002
Women with Attention Deficit Disorder.Sari Solden. 2005
Healing ADD. Daniel Amen, M.D.2002
ADHD: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children, Adolescents and Adults. Paul H. Wender M.D.2000
Renee is a psychotherapist in private practice in Pinellas County, Fl.
She may be reached at 727-278-8375 or at firstname.lastname@example.org