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Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) is the most common psychiatric disorder in children and teenagers.
Some environmental factors such as drinking and smoking during pregnancy can play a role in brain development. ADHD is linked to genetics, and most genes are directly related to the brain reward system.
Those who are diagnosed with ADHD have lower levels of dopamine receptors. This means those people are less sensitive to rewards and easily bored. ADHD brains need to be highly stimulated to keep focused.
ADHD Advantage fMRI Scans
fMRI scans reveal that a normal brain at rest shows most activity in the brain is in the default mode network and can quickly switch to the task-positive network when their focus is required.
ADHD brains showed that the default mode network fails to shut down automatically, meaning both networks stay active, decreasing concentration abilities.
Researchers have also observed thinner prefrontal cortex in patients with ADHD. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for emotional regulation, attention control, and inhibition response.
Ritalin for ADHD
As a result, doctors will often prescribe Ritalin for ADHD. Ritalin helps increase dopamine concentration in the synapse, increasing the rate of binding to the receptors.
However, there has been conflicting research on Ritalin about its overall ethics and concern over the unknown long-term side effects.
Of course, many non-ADHD individuals have also been known to abuse Ritalin as an effective method to increase focus and concentration to study more effectively at school or on the job.
The other controversy surrounding ADHD is the staggering number of people who have been diagnosed with it throughout North America over the last few years.
There was a five percent increase every year from 2003 to 2011. Prescriptions have also followed suit as some studies show a 35 percent increase in prescriptions from 2008 to 2012.
The ADHD Advantage
It turns out that there may be an evolutionary advantage having ADHD symptoms as hunter-gather societies being restless and hyperactive translates into being more successful in catching prey and bringing home food. There is an increased vigilance for protecting offspring.
This means there is a greater chance of survival, and it can get passed down through your genes.
A recent study showed settled versus nomadic tribes in Kenya showed that the nomadic tribes had higher rates of ADHD linked to their genes and were much more efficient at getting food.
Interestingly, multiple studies have shown that those with ADHD are more creative as they often think more randomly and outside the box.