ADHD: Identified By Brain Scan
Scientists have used a brain scan to diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a finding that "comes just days after a government panel concluded that doctors have no consistent, physical way to identify" the disease. The Bergen Record reports that Dr. John Gabrieli and colleagues at Stanford University used functional magnetic resonance imaging to look at the brain activity of 16 boys -- ten diagnosed with ADHD and six without -- ages 8 to 13 while they played a simple game (Recer, 11/24). The study, reported in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that a portion of the brain called the basal ganglia was less active in children diagnosed with ADHD. In addition, the study found that Ritalin, a drug commonly used to treat the disease, "increases brain activity in the basal ganglia in hyperactive children, but decreases basal ganglia activity in healthy children."
Dr. Xavier Castellanos of the National Institutes of Mental health said "the results need to be replicated," but added that the test "offers the first objective means of diagnosing the disorder" (Maugh, Los Angeles Times, 11/24). The Record reports that insurance companies don't usually pay for functional MRIs, which can cost more than $1500 (11/24).