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Brain Chemical Link to ADHD, Study

September 9th 2009

People who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have low levels of a key chemical that controls the brain’s system for motivation and reward.
By Alfi Fernandez

People who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have low levels of a key chemical that controls the brain’s system for motivation and reward, according to a study by U.S. researchers.

Using a brain scan called a positron emission tomography, or PET, scientists compared the brains of 53 adults with ADHD and 44 adults without the affliction. Test results showed a lack of the chemical dopamine, a vital neurotransmitter, in the patients with ADHD. Patients with the highest levels of ADHD had the lowest amounts of dopamine.

The results are significant because they could result in new ways to combat the syndrome.

“These deficits in the brain's reward system may help explain clinical symptoms of ADHD, including inattention and reduced motivation, as well as the propensity for complications such as drug abuse and obesity among ADHD patients,” said lead researcher Dr. Nora Volkow, according to the BBC.