According to a report in the journal European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, there may be persistent effects of ADHD in adulthood, even though diagnostic criteria for ADHD may longer be met.
A collaborative study between researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK, and researchers at multiple institutions in Finland, assessed whether those who had been diagnosed with ADHD during adolescence had any brain abnormalities present in adulthood (either in structure or working memory).
A total of 83 participants between the ages of 20 and 24 were recruited from Northern Finland for the study. Of these, 49 participants had been diagnosed with ADHD and 34 served as a control group.
The researchers found that participants who had been diagnosed with ADHD during adolescence had a lower volume of grey matter, compared with participants who were not diagnosed with ADHD. In addition, they found differences in memory between the two groups. The participants who had ADHD had poorer working memory compared to the control group, with associated structural and functional abnormalities.
The researchers report that the brain abnormalities noted in the study are not due to treatment associated with ADHD, since all but one of the participants did not receive any drug therapy for their ADHD. The researchers conclude that while diagnostic criteria for ADHD may not be met during adulthood, there may be residual structural and functional outcomes of ADHD.
Roman-Urrestarazu, A, Lindholm, P, Moilanen, I, Kiviniemi, V, Miettunen, J, Jääskeläinen, E, Mäki, P, Hurtig, T, Ebeling, H, Barnett, JH, Nikkinen, J, Suckling, J, Jones, PB, Veijola, J, Murray, GK. “Brain structural deficits and working memory fMRI dysfunction in young adults who were diagnosed with ADHD in adolescence” European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Published online: 26 August 2015
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Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD