MRIs, the brain, and ADHD

In a recent RockCenter with Brian Williams segment, Dr. Xavier Castellanos, of the New York Child Study Center and NYU Langone Medical Center describes how he, as part of a bigger study, analyzed 139 MRIs of adult men who had been diagnosed with ADHD during childhood.  What he observed was that portions of the brain that help control attention and manage emotional reactivity were “thinner” than in the control group.   This study, along with neuroimaging findings from other researchers that have established connections with ADHD and smaller, less active, and less developed regions of the brain (including the orbital-prefrontal cortex, areas of the basal ganglia, the anterior cingulate cortex, and part of the corpus callosum), helps to counter critics who argue the validity of the ADHD diagnosis and its neurological underpinnings.

Other important details regarding neuroimaging research findings that are not addressed in this brief segment:

  1. There are no substantial gender differences .
  2. The differences in size persist to late adolescence, and functional differences persist into adulthood (in most cases)
  3. The results are not due to taking stimulant medication.


Watch the full story, focusing on adults and ADHD, in the segment entitled “the attention deficit.”