Tuesday, July 26, 2011

ADD/ADHD and Neurology

It is often difficult for people to truly accept that ADD/ADHD is a neurological disorder.  Many people tend to dismiss ADHD as laziness (due to lack of motivation), "spacey" (due to lack of concentration), or even belligerence (not following through on a task given).  The fact is that there is a large amount of medical research on the connection of ADHD to the brain.  It is important for parents, educators, and employers to understand ADD/ADHD in order to be able to help a child (or another adult) who has been diagnosed be successful in the home, school, or work environment.

The frontal lobe, the limbic system,  the reticular activating system, and the cortex  are the areas of the brain directly connected to ADD/ADHD.  Slow brain wave activity in any of the first three mentioned areas will manifest itself in a lack of control in the cortex of the brain.  The frontal lobe is connected to one's ability to pay attention, focus, concentrate, make good decisions, plan ahead, learn and remember what was learned.  The limbic system is the base of our emotions.  If this system is over-activated, it may manifest itself in mood swings, an urge to touch everything, a quick startle response, or even difficulty sleeping. The inhibitory mechanisms of the cortex is the area where one's impulses are restrained. The reticular activating system is the attention center of the brain and the center of motivation.  A very complex  collection of neurons here serves as the point of convergence where things in the external world meets the world inside our own bodies (thoughts and emotions).  This system has a profound impact on the activation of the other areas noted.  When this system does not excite the neurons in the cortex as it should, the results are an under-aroused cortex which may take on numerous appearances, such as learning difficulties, poor memory, little self-control, high or low motor activity, highly motivated or easily bored, and impulsivity.  The extremes of an imbalance in this system include, unconsciousness (coma) or hyper vigilance.

The complexities of the brain are not something most people without a medical degree in neurology could even begin to grasp.  The bottom line is that there is a reason for ADD/ADHD and it deserves our attention.  If people with this impairment are to be helped, as help would be provided to any person with a disability, we must first concede that ADD/ADHD has, in fact, a medical explanation.

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