ADHD is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children with ADHD might have trouble paying attention. They might not seem to listen. They might forget things. They might not be able to stay seated or play quietly. They might talk too much. And they might act and speak without thinking about the results of their behavior. These are among the signs listed on the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.
Doctors usually identify ADHD in children. But experts say the behaviors often last into adulthood. Researchers have been looking for the cause or causes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Now, a brain-imaging study offers more evidence that could lead to new ways to treat it. Researchers say they observed shortages in the brain’s reward system in patients with ADHD The study found that levels of certain proteins were lower than normal. Nora Volkow is director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the lead author of the study. She says the lack of attention and self-control that mark ADHD could be caused by problems in the flow of dopamine.
She said: “Dopamine is considered a neurotransmitter that is crucial for our ability to perceive rewards and to be motivated in our behavior.” If people cannot sense a reward, she says, then they might have difficulty completing an activity. Researchers compared the pathways that transmit dopamine in fifty-three adults with ADHD to those of forty-four adults without the disorder. Doctor Volkow said: “There was a lower concentration of dopamine markers in the brain of individuals with ADHD, specifically in the areas of the brain that are involved with reward and motivation.” The study used brain images taken at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York State. Gene-Jack Wang is chairman of the Brookhaven medical department.
He says the finding might also help explain why people with ADHD are more likely to abuse drugs or overeat. He says they might be trying to increase their dopamine levels to make up for the deficits in their reward system. The Brookhaven Lab is part of the United States Department of Energy. The National Institutes of Health supported the research. The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And that’s the VOA Special English Health Report.
Words in This Story
deficit – n. the total amount by which money spent is more than money received
hyperactivity – n. (of a person) the state of having more energy than is normal, becoming excited easily, and being unable to stay still or think about work
disorder – n. a state of untidiness or lack of organization
evidence – n. one or more reasons for believing that something is or is not true
institute – n. an organization where people do a particular type of scientific, educational, or social work, or the buildings that it uses
dopamine – n. a hormone (= chemical substance) that is made naturally in the body and may also be given as a drug
neurotransmitter – n. a chemical that carries messages between neurons or between neurons and muscles
crucial – adj. extremely important or necessary
perceive – v. to come to an opinion about something, or have a belief about something
association – n. a group of people who work together in a single organization for a particular purpose
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