Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Mental Health Week Hyperactive Patterns
23 August 2013

Hyperactive Patterns

Is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) really a disorder or part of the normal range of human behaviour? One problem fuelling this controversy is the lack of a definitive diagnostic test. Currently ADHD is diagnosed by questionnaires, which since they rely on opinion are subjective. The resulting variation can lead to under- or over-diagnosing. Scientists have addressed this problem using magnetic resonance imaging combined with mathematical analysis to outline patterns in brain structure. The ADHD brain pattern (highlighted orange), is still clearly distinguishable when ‘overlaid’ on the ‘normal’ control pattern (blue and purple). Patients with autism (in green) were included as they share some symptoms with ADHD. This pattern recognition technique identified 79% of questionnaire-diagnosed ADHD patients and clearly distinguished ADHD from autism. It’s a promising first step towards an objective diagnostic test for ADHD.

Written by Julie Webb

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