Sorry about the radio silence – it’s been a hectic few days on tour. But I’ve had a really great time talking about science and art with everybody. If you’re a citizen of Seattle, I’ll be at Town Hall tonight…
In other news, I thought it’s worth linking to the latest study on ADHD, which imaged the brains of thousands of children diagnosed with the disorder:
Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health and McGill University, using imaging techniques, found that the brains of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder developed normally but more slowly in some areas than the brains of children without the disorder.
The disorder, also known as A.D.H.D., is by far the most common psychiatric diagnosis given to disruptive young children; 3 percent to 5 percent of school-age children are thought to be affected. Researchers have long debated whether it was due to a brain deficit or to a delay in development.
Doctors said that the report, being published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, helps to explain why so many children grow out of the diagnosis in middle school or later, often after taking stimulant medications to improve concentration in earlier grades.
I’m part of the Ritalin generation, which meant that plenty of my classmates in elementary school went to the nurse’s office for their little dose of drug. My fifth grade teacher called it “the troublemaker pill”. What interests me about this finding is that it suggests that ADHD is largely a matter of developmental timing. Given time, the cortex eventually matures. Perhaps this will lead us to be a little more reluctant to treat the condition as a neurological disorder, best treated with a powerful stimulant. That said, I was always impressed by how well Ritalin seemed to work. After they came back from the nurse’s office, the troublemakers made less trouble.
What do you think? Should this study change our treatment of ADHD?