Monday, May 24, 2010

ADHD - Drugs or Rewards?

New hope for ADHD--- the Curse of 10% of all Schoolchildren!



It's an epidemic, this diagnosis called ADHD. We all know that.

The problem is huge. In every school, the numbers of kids who won't behave is rising exponentially.

Many current estimates say that a whopping 10% of all school children are now classified as ADHD!

But what to do? That's what nobody seems to know. Or agree upon.

But now there is a new theory, one that flies in the face of accepted current treatment. A landmark study (published in the journal Biological Psychiatry) promises new hope for treatment, according to the research funded by the Wellcome Trust.

More about that soon.

What is ADHD really? It's named, like so many maladies, by its symptoms--- "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder." Not very specific, is it? We could also call it "for some reason we don't know, the person won't focus or behave."

Preschoolers rip around pulling things down, howling shoving, flailing as if on some secret mission. Older children grab others, wrestle, and act out impulsively in often bizarre and unpredictable ways. Adults can't hold a job, can't build a life.

Their typical behavior disrupts classrooms and homes. Not to mention the devastating impact on their own developing lives.

As far as learning goes, teachers and parents exhaust themselves trying to focus children with ADHD. Many just try to minimize the ADHD child's impact on their surroundings, especially other children.

Also, its a boy thing. Nobody knows why three times more males become ADHD patients, than girls. In fact, nobody knows very much at all about ADHD, it seems.

Researchers (at the University of Nottingham) affirms that medication definitely alters ADHD sufferer's brain function. Methylphenidate (used to treat ADHD), seems to boost brain dopamine levels.

Dopamine affects and perhaps regulates the brain's reward and pleasure systems. Boosting dopamine boosts brain signals. This effect is clearly seen with an electroencephalogram (EEG).

But here is the new good news that we promised.... and this is where the study breaks new ground.

What we didn't know is this--- old-fashioned rewards and incentives mimic the effects of medication, on those ADHD brain systems. Now we know much more clearly how rewards and incentives affect the brain, with or without medication.

The study subjects children played closely-defined games while researchers used EEG to measure their brain activity. Researchers compared two particular markers of brain activity (that relate to attention and impulsivity). The results were clearly impacted by medication and motivational incentives.

So, the ADHD question--- is therapy or are drugs most effective?

If the object is to normalize activity in the same brain systems, behavioral therapy can raise the success level of ADHD treatment. Medication, in combination with therapy, definitely increases attention and self control. Both together can be far more effective, according to the study.

The object of treatment, then, is to normalize activity in the same brain systems. Behaviorial therapy can raise the success level of ADHD treatment. Medication, in combination with therapy, definitely increases attention and self control. Both together can be far more effective, according to the study.

And yet, with declining budgets of education worldwide, will this new finding go unheeded? Will there be funding for therapy?

10% of all schoolchildren--- 10% of the future of our world!

Can societies afford NOT to treat one-tenth of their future adult population?

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