Monday, October 25, 2010

Brain scans shed new light on childhood problems

The symptoms which can lead to children being diagnosed with bipolar disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be quite similar but new research, from a team led by Alessandra M. Passarotti from the University of Chicago at Illinois, suggests that what goes on inside their brains might be completely different. The study involved children between the ages of 10 and 18, some diagnosed with bipolar disorder, some diagnosed with ADHD and others with no mental health problems. The children were wired up to an MRI scanner while they did a memory task involving faces with angry, happy or neutral expressions. Both groups showed dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex which controls executive function, working memory, attention, language and impulsivity. However, the ADHD group showed more severe dysfunction in the areas relating to working memory while the bipolar group showed more dysfunction in areas involved with processing and regulating emotions.

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