Structural and functional imaging research on the neurochemistry of ADHD implicate the catecholamine-rich fronto-subcortical systems in the pathophysiology of ADHD. The effectiveness of stimulant medication, along with animal models of hyperactivity, also point to catecholamine disruption as at least one source of ADHD brain dysfunction.
A 10-year study by National Institute of Mental Health the found that brains of children and adolescents with ADHD are 3-4% smaller than those of children who don't have the disorder. Over 50 years of hard data indicate that children with poor diet, lacking in the proper nutrients have smaller brains than well fed children. As a result of these studies both China and Japan have a strong focus on child nutrition and diet. The outcome has been higher IQ scores and neuro-imaging showing larger brains. Hard data consistently shows that Children who are medicated with stimulant medications consistently suffer from appetite loss, leading to poor nutrition and smaller brains. JAMA failed miserably to point out the finding of the Asian studies, that medication treatment is most likely cause of chlildren with ADHD being diagnosed with smaller brains. (JAMA 2002 Oct 9; 288(14):1740-8).
Therefore it is very important to seek the advise of a nutrition expert, when a young child demonstrates hyperactive behavior. Walnuts, eggs which are rich in omega 3 have proven to be especially critical toward neurological development.
Very recent studies have also linked increased mathematical ability to a reduction of ADHD symptoms. Gains in Reading achievement has been noted by Dr. Linda Mood Bell to improved school performance and an increase in brain matter.
Many of the symptoms classifed as ADHD symptoms of inattention are actually symptoms of executive function impairments. Executive function refers to a wide range of central control processes in the brain that activate, integrate, and manage other brain functions.
Executive function can be compared to the function of an conductor of an orchestra. The conductor organizes, activates, focuses, integrates, and directs the musicians as they play, enabling the orchestra to produce complex music. Similarly, the brain's executive functions organize, activate, focus, integrate and direct, allowing the brain to perform both routine and creative work.
The components of executive function that impact functioning at school or work:
- working memory and recall (holding facts in mind while manipulating information; accessing facts stored in long-term memory)
- activation, arousal and effort (getting started; paying attention; completing work)
- emotion control (tolerating frustration; thinking before acting or speaking)
- internalizing language (using self-talk to control one's behavior and direct future actions)
- complex problem solving (taking an issue apart, analyzing the pieces, reconstituting and organizing them into new ideas)