Compare normal vs ADHD brain

Many of the characteristics of ADHD involve difficulty with day-to-day tasks such as time management, organization, problem-solving, and emotional control. A region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex is especially important in regulating these skills, and it has been shown to be smaller in children with ADHD.

Researchers use structural imaging, which provides two- or three-dimensional pictures, to uncover the anatomy of the brain. Computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are examples of structural imaging techniques. The images are used to measure the size and volume of the whole brain or specific areas within the brain.

Research has found deficits in the neural networks linked to attention and executive function in children and adults with ADHD. This may affect your ability to organize, prioritize, plan, focus, remember instructions, and work toward your goals. [9]

Biology Of Adhd Brain

How Is the ADHD Brain Different


While we don’t completely understand what causes ADHD symptoms — difficulty regulating attention and emotions, hyperactivity, impulsivity — we do know that it’s a neurodevelopmental disorder. That means that the brains of kids with ADHD develop differently from those of other kids. Researchers have started to identify the structural and chemical differences in the brain that may cause the symptoms associated with ADHD.

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Quick Read

As noted earlier, dopamine and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters that might be associated with ADHD.

Let’s dive deeper into what the structure, network, and chemistry of an ADHD brain look like.

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Ever since it was first diagnosed in the 1960s, ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) has been a controversial topic. Even experts often debate over how the disorder should be defined and what causes it.

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Differences in Brain Structure

Noradrenaline plays an important role in the prefrontal cortex, and ADHD may disrupt its transmission in the brain.

Because of these differences, you may find it challenging to organize, plan, focus, and manage your emotions with ADHD.

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The Neuroscience of the ADHD Brain

Verified Updated on October 11, 2023

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The ADHD Brain: Structurally Different

An in-depth look at the underlying causes of ADHD symptoms in children.

Researchers once thought that each human function was assigned to a specific part of the brain, and that a part damaged by trauma or disease permanently lost its function. Now, research has shown that the human brain changes in response to stimulation; brains have neuroplasticity. The good news is that your brain retains this ability to change from birth to old age. ADHD brains that have deficits in one area will attempt to rewire themselves to accomplish a task.

Inside the ADHD Brain: Structure, Function, and Chemistry

Adhd Vs Normal Brain

It’s not “all in your head.” It’s all in your brain—literally.

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ADHD Brain: Structure and Function

For instance, brain experts have found that various medical conditions are linked to lower levels of chemical messengers in the brain known as neurotransmitters. These disorders include anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, mood disorders, and ADHD. [1]; [2]

Researchers have worked on that question and have tried to give us more accurate numbers, even if they aren’t exact. It turns out that you get about 30 percent of what researchers call “the potential response” with medications alone, and about the same from evidence-based non-medication therapies. Using only one therapy alone misses 70 percent of the potential improvement. In other words, if your ADHD were a pie, one evidence-based therapy would eat about one third of it. Use another therapy and 30 percent more would be gone, and so on.

While these regions of the brain may remain smaller in people with ADHD, studies have shown that they do continue to grow and mature as children get older. By adulthood, the difference in size when compared to individuals without the disorder has appeared to be less significant.

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