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  • Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric

  • disorder among children and teenagers. But what’s going on inside the brain and body

  • of these individuals and could it actually be an advantage?

  • While some environmental factors such as maternal drinking and smoking during pregnancy may

  • play a role in brain development, ADHD is highly linked to your genetics. And most of

  • these genes are directly associated to the brain’s reward pathways. It turns out that

  • those with ADHD have lower levels of dopamine receptors - dopamine being thefeel good

  • hormone. This means they are less sensitive to rewards, ultimately making them feel bored

  • or unstimulated by what may keep another individual entertained.

  • We also see a major difference when we look at fMRI scans. Normally, a brain at rest shows

  • activity in the default mode network, and quickly switches over to the task-positive

  • network when your focus is required. But for ADHD brains, the default mode network fails

  • to automatically shut down, meaning both networks stay active, resulting in a decreased ability

  • to concentrate. Scientists have also observed a thinner prefrontal cortex in ADHD patients,

  • which is responsible for attention control, emotional regulation, and response inhibition.

  • As a result of these difference, Ritalin is often prescribed for ADHD; it helps to increase

  • dopamine concentration in the synapse, increasing the likelihood of it binding to the fewer

  • receptors. However, there is conflicting research on its overall efficacy and concern

  • over unknown long term side effects. Of course, many non-ADHD individuals have also been known

  • to abuse ritalin as a method to increase concentration during work or school to study more effectively.

  • Perhaps more controversial is the dramatic increase in diagnosis of ADHD over the years.

  • Whether warranted or not, a 5% increase was documented each year from 2003-2011 in the

  • U.S. Medication prescriptions have also followed a similar pattern, with some reports indicating

  • a 35% increase in dispensed prescriptions from 2008-2012.

  • But it turns out that there may be an evolutionary advantage to having classic ADHD symptoms.

  • For hunter-gatherers and nomadic cultures, being restless and hyperactive translates

  • directly into higher chances of successfully bringing home food and increased vigilance

  • for protecting offspring. This means a greater chance of survival and passing on your genes.

  • Even in a current study of settled vs. nomadic members of the Ariaal tribe in Kenya, nomads

  • that had a higher frequency of genes linked to ADHD were better at getting food.

  • On top of this, studies have routinely shown that those with ADHD tend to be more creative

  • in both controlled tests and in real life, as they often think randomly and outside the

  • box. Finally, while structured and orderly school environments may not be conducive to

  • ADHD children, many adults thrive in the right work environment. Studies show that if their

  • high energy is channeled into the right careers, especially those that demand great resourcefulness

  • and adaptability, this once viewed handicap can become a strong asset.

  • Special thanks to audible for supporting this episode to give you a free 30 day trial at

  • audible.com/asap. This week we wanted to recommend the bookThe ADHD Advantageby Dale

  • Archer, which highlights how some of the most successful entrepreneurs, leaders and entertainers

  • were strengthened by their ADHD. You can get a free 30 day trial at audible.com/asap and

  • choose from a massive selection! We love them as they are great when youre on the go.

  • And subscribe for more weekly science videos!

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric

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Is ADHD An Advantage?

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    Jack Lu posted on 2016/04/30
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