How ADHD is Different in Boys vs. Girls

Oct 23, 2015 01:10 PM EDT | By Denise Valerie Uychiat

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A new research suggests that Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may show up differently in the brains of girls than in boys' brains. The outcome may be able to help health experts better understand how ADHD can affect boys and girls in unique ways, said the researchers.

According to author Lisa Jacobson, a pediatric neuropsychologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, in Baltimore, the findings showed differences in the white matter microstructure between boys and girls. White matter helps different parts of the brain to communicate with each other, HealthDay News reported.

The differences in structural were linked with observed behavioral differences. After the observation, our findings provided us with preliminary evidence for unique differences in the brain's white matter structure and function between boys and girls with ADHD said Jacobson.

Another expert, who gave insight on this matter, is Kathryn Moore, a psychologist at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California. Moore explained that females are more likely to be seen with the inattentive symptoms of ADHD, while males are more seen with hyperactive and impulsive component of ADHD.

Moore, who was not involved with the new research, noticed that the study authors could not explain the reasons for their findings. She also said that boys are commonly diagnosed with ADHD but they can't point out why that is the case. She also added that the most fascinating the study has found out is the differences in brain functions between boys and girls with ADHD. She's still unsure if the neurological difference causes ADHD or the other way around.

For the study, children between the ages of 8 and 12 had a type of MRI called diffusion tensor imaging, which allows researchers to see neurological differences in the brain. Half of the children had been diagnosed with ADHD. The children without ADHD were paired to those with ADHD, based on age, IQ and handedness (being left- or right-handed). After observing the kids, the researchers found a few differences in the white matter of children with ADHD compared to those without ADHD, but the variations showed up in different parts of the brain based on gender.

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