Tuesday, November 13, 2007

ADHD: Immature Brain Development

So here's an intriguing study showing children with ADHD have slower brain development than their peers. By about three years. Using brain scans, researchers affiiliated with the National Institute of Mental Health pinpointed the areas of the brain associated with the primary symptoms of ADHD (e.g., lack of concentration, impulsive behavior, poor organization) and found that these areas matured at a rate of 3 years later (by age 10 1/2) than children without the disorder.

Pretty interesting stuff. A tribute to our growing fondness of relying on brain imaging (and thus, brain activity or in this case, brain structure) as evidence of behavior, mood, and personality. On a positive note, this kind of research takes the spotlight off parents who might think they are responsible (behaviorally) for their kids immature behavior. This study suggests they are not. Genetically perhaps, but not behaviorally.

On a less than positive note - can we all be reduced to brain parts that readily? Do we want to be known by our brain structures? The electrical impulses traveling within our grey matter? Can you see it? Please excuse Jordan from any timed tests. His prefrontal cortex is immature. They'll be a run on doctor's notes for the SAT's. They'll have to set a cut-off. Prefrontal cortexts of a so-and-so size and larger do not qualify for untimed sessions. But why stop there? Why not just measure each and every high school student's brain and forward the results in to the college admissions office. I'm sure it won't be long before we have found evidence of the brain structure(s) responsible for intelligence, er, ability, as measured by the much-maligned SAT (ironically, created to cut down on discrimination against certain ethnicities)...

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