Brain scans of youngsters with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have shown for the first time why they may have difficulty with concentration. They suggest that children with ADHD require either much greater incentives or medication to focus on a task compared to children without the condition. If the incentive is low, then those with ADHD fail to “switch off” brain regions involved in mind-wandering.
But when there are strong incentives, or when youngsters are taking their medication, their brain activity is the same as for a child without ADHD, according to University of Nottingham researchers. The study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and funded by the Wellcome Trust, involved 18 children with ADHD aged nine to 15. Their brains were compared with those of 18 similar children without ADHD.
All the children played a computer game that involved hitting green aliens as quickly as possible while avoiding black ones. The reward for avoiding black aliens was then increased to study the effect of incentives. Previous studies have shown that children with ADHD have difficulty controlling the part of their brain which gives rise to wandering thoughts or daydreaming. This part of the brain is normally suppressed when people are focused on a specific task.
The latest research suggests that children with ADHD - up to 7% of those at school – have difficulty suppressing this part of their brain unless they are on medication or incentives are high. Study co-author Dr Martin Batty said: “Most people are able to control their ‘daydreaming’ state and focus on the task at hand. This is not the case with children with ADHD. If a task is not sufficiently interesting, they cannot switch off their background brain activity and they are easily distracted.”
Neurofeedback is also a way to help children train their minds to focus. We’ll be releasing a free white paper soon titled, Neurofeedback and Learning Disabilities – Personal Training for the Brain. Comment here and you’ll be one of the first to get this informative research.
Learn more about ADHD and other common learning disabilities by downloading our Free E-Book: Learning Disabilities 101!