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Alterations in the brain's reward system linked to ADHD.

Byline: ANI

Washington, Feb 4 (ANI): Scientists from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital have found a link between alterations in the brain's reward system and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

They have discovered anomalies in the brain's reward system related to the neural circuits of motivation and gratification.

In children with ADHD, the degree of motivation when carrying out an activity is related to the immediacy with which the objectives of the activity are met.

This would explain why their attention and hyperactivity levels differ depending on the tasks being carried out.

Lead researcher Susanna Carmona, from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona studied the structure of the brain's reward system, the ventral striatum, with clinical symptoms in children suffering from ADHD.

The nucleus accumbens is in charge of maintaining levels of motivation when commencing a task and continues to do so until reaching what experts name the "reinforcement", the proposed objective.

This motivation can be maintained throughout time, even when the gratification obtained is not immediate. However, in children with ADHD motivational levels seem to drop rapidly and there is a need for immediate reinforcements to continue persisting in their efforts.

In the study involving 84 participants aged 6 to 18 years, differences in the structure of the ventral striatum - particularly on the right-hand side - could be seen between those with ADHD and those without the disorder.

Children with ADHD exhibited reduced volumes in this region. These differences were associated with symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

The researchers suggest that ADHD is not only caused by brain alterations affecting cognitive processes, but also by anomalies, which cause motivational deficiencies.

This would explain the imbalance in levels of attention and hyperactivity in a child with ADHD depending on his or her motivation when engaged in a specific task and the immediacy of the gratification/pleasure while carrying it out. (ANI)

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Feb 4, 2010
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