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By BENEDICT CAREY Keith Conners, whose work with hyperactive children established the first standards for diagnosing and treating what is now known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D. — and who late in life expressed misgivings about how loosely applied that label had become — died on July 5 in Durham, N.C. He was 84. His wife, Carolyn, said the cause was heart failure. The field of child psychiatry was itself still young when Dr. Conners joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the early 1960s as a clinical psychologist. Children with emotional and behavioral problems often got a variety of diagnoses, depending on the clinic, and often ended up being given strong tranquilizers as treatment. Working with Dr. Leon Eisenberg, a prominent child psychiatrist, Dr. Conners focused on a group of youngsters who were chronically restless, hyperactive and sometimes aggressive. Doctors had recognized this type — “hyperkinesis,” it was called, or “minimal brain dysfunction” — but Dr. Conners combined existing descriptions and, using statistical analysis, focused on the core symptoms. The 39-item questionnaire he devised, called the Conners Rating Scale, quickly became the worldwide standard for assessing the severity of such problems and measuring improvement. It was later abbreviated to 10 items, giving child psychiatry a scientific foothold and anticipating by more than a decade the kind of checklists that would come to define all psychiatric diagnosis. He used his scale to study the effects of stimulant drugs on hyperactive children. Doctors had known since the 1930s that amphetamines could, paradoxically, calm such youngsters; a Rhode Island doctor, Charles Bradley, had published a well-known report detailing striking improvements in attention and academic performance among many children at a children’s inpatient home he ran near Providence. But it was a series of rigorous studies by Dr. Conners, in the 1960s and ’70s, that established stimulants — namely Dexedrine and Ritalin — as the standard treatments. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 23833 - Posted: 07.14.2017

By Alice Klein A DRUG normally used to treat narcolepsy and excessive daytime sleepiness also seems to improve symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. The finding supports the idea that ADHD might be a sleep disorder. People who have been diagnosed with ADHD find it difficult to concentrate and are generally hyperactive. But many with the condition also find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night, and feel drowsy during the day. Could this mean ADHD is a type of sleep disorder? After all, the brain pathways involved in paying attention have also been linked to sleep. And there’s some evidence of similarly disrupted patterns of chemical signalling in the brains of people with sleep disorders and ADHD. One suggestion is that the circadian rhythm that controls our sleep-wake cycle over each 24 hour period may be misaligned in people with ADHD, causing them to be sleepy or alert at the wrong times. This idea inspired Eric Konofal at Robert-Debré Hospital in Paris to try using a drug for narcolepsy and excessive daytime sleepiness to treat ADHD. Mazindol mimics the effects of a brain chemical called orexin, which modulates wakefulness and appetite. It works as a stimulant to keep us awake, and is lacking in people with narcolepsy, who tend to fall asleep at inappropriate times.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 23681 - Posted: 05.31.2017

Rebecca Hersher Diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be difficult. The symptoms of the disorder, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM, have changed multiple times. Even if you know what to look for, many of the symptoms are pretty general, including things like trouble focusing and a tendency to interrupt people. Discerning the difference between people who have a problem and those who are just distracted requires real expertise. Which is why many people were excited when earlier this year a World Health Organization advisory group endorsed a six-question screening test that a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported could reliably identify adults with ADHD. A lot of people were intrigued by the seeming simplicity of the screening. We reported on it, including one implication of the study's findings: that there could be a significant population of U.S. adults with undiagnosed ADHD. But that may not be the case, and even if it is, some ADHD researchers say the six-question screening test is not necessarily the simple diagnostic solution its proponents hope it will be. "Despite the questions put out by WHO and mentioned in JAMA, in America if your talents and temperament don't match your goals and aspirations, that incongruity generates a series of feelings or behaviors that match quite nicely the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-V," explains Dr. Lawrence Diller, a behavioral pediatrician and ADHD specialist who has been following trends in ADHD diagnosis and medication since the mid-1990s. © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 23677 - Posted: 05.30.2017

Jon Hamilton Impulsive children become thoughtful adults only after years of improvements to the brain's information highways, a team reports in Current Biology. A study of nearly 900 young people ages 8 to 22 found that the ability to control impulses, stay on task and make good decisions increased steadily over that span as the brain remodeled its information pathways to become more efficient. The finding helps explain why these abilities, known collectively as executive function, take so long to develop fully, says Danielle Bassett, an author of the study and an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. "A child's ability to run or to see is very well developed by the time they're 8," she says. "However, their ability to inhibit inappropriate responses is not something that's well developed until well into the 20s." The results also suggest it may be possible to identify adolescents at risk of problems related to poor executive function, says Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which helped fund the study. These include "all kinds of disorders such as substance abuse, depression and schizophrenia," he says. The study is part of an effort to understand the brain changes underlying the development of executive function. It used a technology called diffusion imaging that reveals the fibers that make up the brain's information highways. © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 23668 - Posted: 05.27.2017

Katherine Isbister The fidget spinner craze has been sweeping elementary and middle schools. As of May 17 every one of the top 10 best-selling toys on Amazon was a form of the hand-held toy people can spin and do tricks with. Kids and parents are even making them for themselves using 3D printers and other more homespun crafting techniques. But some teachers are banning them from classrooms. And experts challenge the idea that spinners are good for conditions like ADHD and anxiety. Meanwhile, the Kickstarter online fundraising campaign for the Fidget Cube – another popular fidget toy in 2017 – raised an astounding US$6.4 million, and can be seen on the desks of hipsters and techies across the globe. My research group has taken a deep look at how people use fidget items over the last several years. What we found tells us that these items are not a fad that will soon disappear. Despite sometimes being an annoying distraction for others, fidget items can have some practical uses for adults; our inquiry into their usefulness for children is underway. Fidgeting didn’t start with the spinner craze. If you’ve ever clicked a ballpoint pen again and again, you’ve used a fidget item. As part of our work, we’ve asked people what items they like to fidget with and how and when they use them. (We’re compiling their answers online and welcome additional contributions.) © 2010–2017, The Conversation US, Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 23630 - Posted: 05.18.2017

By Sandrine Ceurstemont Hear them roar. Lionfish have been recorded making sounds for the first time. Decoding these sounds could give us an insight into secret lives of this voracious invasive species – and help us keep tabs on its spread. Many fish produce sounds to communicate with each other as low-pitched noises travel far underwater. “It’s a dominant mode of communication,” says Alex Bogdanoff at North Carolina State University. Bogdanoff and his team decided to investigate the lionfish’s ability to produce sound after hearing reports from several divers that they make noises. This invasive species has been spreading through the Caribbean and east coast of the US. They often devour several organisms at a time, which is drastically reducing some native fish populations and altering ecosystems. The team recorded the underwater soundscape in an outdoor tank for five days, at first with a single lionfish and then with a group of five individuals. Occasionally, they stirred up the water with a net to see whether stress caused the fish to make different sounds. The team found that the fish often produced a rhythmic sound similar to a heartbeat and to calls made by other fish. But they also produced another noise made up of a much quicker series of beats (listen to the audio file, below). “It sounds like the rapid beating of a drum,” says Bogdanoff. Lionfish seemed to alter their calls when they were agitated, producing quicker and louder pulses. In follow-up experiments, the team found that they made sounds throughout the day, but were more vocal in the morning and evening. Sounds are likely to vary between individuals as well. Bogdanoff and his team are now working on identifying these differences. They already have evidence that body size affects the noises that lionfish make. Males and females are likely to make different calls, so that they can find one another and reproduce. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 23620 - Posted: 05.17.2017

By Reuters People with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are at increased risk of motor-vehicle accidents, but it is significantly reduced when they are taking ADHD medication, a 10-year study finds. The researchers estimate that 1 in 5 of the accidents among more than 2 million people with ADHD during the study period could have been avoided if these individuals had been receiving medication the entire time. “The patients should be aware of the potential risk of [crashes], and seek specific treatment advice from their doctors if they experience difficulties in driving from their condition,” said lead author Zheng Chang, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Chang said that motor-vehicle crashes kill more than 1.25 million people around the world each year. ADHD is a common disorder with symptoms that include poor sustained attention, impaired impulse control and hyperactivity, he added. Past studies have found that people with ADHD are at an increased risk for crashes and that medication may reduce symptoms and ultimately improve driving skills. To examine the risk of crashes with ADHD and how it is influenced by medication, the researchers analyzed U.S. commercial health insurance claims between 2005 and 2014. They identified 2,319,450 adults with an ADHD diagnosis, half of whom were older than 33. About 1.9 million of them received at least one prescription to treat their ADHD during the study period. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 23609 - Posted: 05.13.2017

By Colleen Kimmett, Dr. Rebecca Carey admits to being a little embarrassed about what her son, Mark, eats every day. Hamburger patties for breakfast, or bacon. A pack of raisins and a cookie for lunch; a turkey and cheese sandwich “if I’m lucky,” says Carey, but it usually comes back home. His favorite dinner is fish cakes and pasta, but all vegetables remain firmly untouched. It’s the kind of diet—low in fruits and vegetables, high in carbs—that a doctor like herself might caution against. But it’s also low in milk, sugar, and artificial food additives — all things Carey believes worsen 10-year-old Mark’s attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, symptoms. Twice a day, in the morning at their home in Newburgh, Ind., and from the school nurse at lunch, he takes a vitamin and mineral supplement, which helps make up for the lack of veggies. It’s been six months on this diet, which Carey researched herself and tested out on Mark, and in that time he has transitioned off his ADHD medication. It wasn’t all smooth sailing; there were fights in the candy section of the grocery store, and Carey struggled to find quick, high-protein breakfasts. “But honestly, I would never go back,” she said. Carey is not the only one who’s trying this approach. Medication and therapy remain the most effective treatments for ADHD. But driven by concerns about the short- and long-term side effects of psychiatric medications on children, some parents are looking for ways to keep their kids on lower doses of the drugs, or to quit the drugs entirely. © 2017 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 23568 - Posted: 05.04.2017

Rebecca Hersher Do you pop up from your seat during meetings and finish other people's sentences? And maybe you also procrastinate, or find yourself zoning out in the middle of one-on-one conversations? It's possible you have adult ADHD. Six simple questions can reliably identify adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, according to a World Health Organization advisory group working with two additional psychiatrists. The questions are: How often do you have difficulty concentrating on what people say to you, even when they are speaking to you directly? How often do you leave your seat in meetings and other situations in which you are expected to remain seated? How often do you have difficulty unwinding and relaxing when you have time to yourself? When you're in a conversation, how often do you find yourself finishing the sentences of the people you are talking to before they can finish them themselves? How often do you put things off until the last minute? How often do you depend on others to keep your life in order and attend to details? The response options are "never," "rarely," "sometimes," "often" or "very often." "It's very important to look at the questions in their totality, not each individual symptom," says Dr. David Goodman, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who was not involved in the study. "No single question stands out as indicating ADHD." © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 23456 - Posted: 04.06.2017

Laurel Hamers SAN FRANCISCO — Girls and boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder don’t just behave differently. Parts of their brains look different, too. Now, researchers can add the cerebellum to that mismatch. For boys, symptoms of the disorder tend to include poor impulse control and disruptive behavior. Girls are more likely to have difficulty staying focused on one task. Studies show that those behavioral differences are reflected in brain structure. Boys with ADHD, for example, are more likely than girls to display abnormalities in premotor and primary motor circuits, pediatric neurologist Stewart Mostofsky of Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore has reported previously. Now, Mostofsky and colleagues have looked at the cerebellum, which plays a role in coordinating movement. He reported the new findings March 25 at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco. Girls ages 8 to 12 with ADHD showed differences in the volume of various regions of their cerebellum compared with girls without the condition, MRI scans revealed. A similar comparison of boys showed abnormalities, too. But those differences didn’t match what’s seen between girls, preliminary analyses suggest. So far, researchers have looked at 18 subjects in each of the four groups, but plan to quintuple that number in the coming months. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2017

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 23435 - Posted: 04.01.2017

By Kerry Grens Brain scans of 3,242 volunteers aged four to 63 years old revealed that those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—roughly half of the group—had smaller tissue volumes in five brain regions. Because the differences were largest between children, the researchers concluded that ADHD likely involves a delay in brain maturation. The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry on February 15, is the largest of its kind to date, and the authors hope it will change public perception of the disorder. “I think most scientists in the field already know that the brains of people with ADHD show differences, but I now hope to have shown convincing evidence … that will reach the general public and show that it has [a basis in the brain] just like other psychiatric disorders,” geneticist and coauthor Martine Hoogman of Radboud University in the Netherlands told The Washington Post. “We know that ADHD deals with stigma, but we also know that increasing knowledge will reduce stigma.” Most pronounced among the brain differences between those with and without ADHD was the amygdala, important for emotional processing. “The amygdala is heavily connected to other brain regions. It is a kind of hub for numerous kinds of signaling around salience and significance of events,” Joel Nigg, a psychiatry professor at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine who was not part of the study, told CNN. “The bigger story here is that alterations in amygdala have not been widely accepted as part of ADHD, so seeing that effect emerge here is quite interesting.” © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 23268 - Posted: 02.22.2017

By Amy Ellis Nutt For the first time, scientists can point to substantial empirical evidence that people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder have brain structures that differ from those of people without ADHD. The common disorder, they conclude, should be considered a problem of delayed brain maturation and not, as it is often portrayed, a problem of motivation or parenting. In conducting the largest brain imaging study of its kind, an international team of researchers found that ADHD involves decreased volume in key brain regions, in particular the amygdala, which is responsible for regulating the emotions. Although the study, published Wednesday in the Lancet Psychiatry, included children, adolescents and adults, the scientists said the greatest differences in brain volume appeared in the brains of children. Of seven subcortical brain regions targeted in the study, five, including the amygdala, were found to be smaller in those with ADHD, compared with those in a control group. The other regions that showed reductions in volume were: the caudate nucleus (which has been linked to goal-directed action), the putamen (involved in learning and responding to stimuli), the nucleus accumbens (which processes rewards and motivation) and the hippocampus (where memories are formed). © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 23239 - Posted: 02.16.2017

By Ellen Hendriksen Pop quiz: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say “ADHD”? a. Getting distracted b. Ants-in-pants c. Elementary school boys d. Women and girls Most likely, you didn’t pick D. If that’s the case, you’re not alone. For most people, ADHD conjures a mental image of school-aged boys squirming at desks or bouncing off walls, not a picture of adults, girls, or especially adult women. Both scientists and society have long pinned ADHD on males, even though girls and women may be just as likely to suffer from this neurodevelopmental disorder. Back in 1987, the American Psychiatric Association stated that the male to female ratio for ADHD was 9 to 1. Twenty years later, however, an epidemiological study of almost 4,000 kids found the ratio was more like 1 to 1—half girls, half boys. © 2017 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 23069 - Posted: 01.09.2017

Children don’t usually have the words to communicate even the darkest of thoughts. As a result, some children aged 5 to 11 take their own lives. It’s a rare and often overlooked phenomenon—and one that scientists are only just beginning to understand. A study published today in the journal Pediatrics reveals that attention deficit disorder (A.D.D.), not depression, may be the most common mental health diagnosis among children who die by suicide. By contrast, the researchers found that two-thirds of the 606 early adolescents studied (aged 12 to 14) had suffered from depression. While the finding isn’t necessarily causal, it does suggest that impulsive behavior might contribute to incidences of child suicide. Alternatively, some of these cases could be attributed to early-onset bipolar disorder, misdiagnosed as A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. Here’s Catherine Saint Louis, reporting for The New York Times: Suicide prevention has focused on identifying children struggling with depression; the new study provides an early hint that this strategy may not help the youngest suicide victims. “Maybe in young children, we need to look at behavioral markers,” said Jeffrey Bridge, the paper’s senior author and an epidemiologist at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, the vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, agreed. “Not everybody who is at risk for suicide has depression,” even among adults, said Dr. Harkavy-Friedman, who was not involved in the new research. © 1996-2016 WGBH Educational Foundation

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 22964 - Posted: 12.08.2016

Laurence O'Dwyer Until as late as 2013 a joint (or comorbid) diagnosis of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was not permitted by the most influential psychiatric handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM is an essential tool in psychiatry as it allows clinicians and researchers to use a standard framework for classifying mental disorders. Health insurance companies and drug regulation agencies also use the DSM, so its definition of what does or doesn’t constitute a particular disorder can have far-reaching consequences. One of the reasons for the prohibition of a comorbid diagnosis of autism and ADHD was that the severity of autism placed it above ADHD in the diagnostic hierarchy, so the inattention that is normally present in autism did not seem to merit an additional diagnosis. Nevertheless, that was an odd state of affairs, as any clinician working in the field would be able to quote studies that point to anything from 30% to 80% of patients with autism also having ADHD. More problematic still is the fact that patients with both sets of symptoms may respond poorly to standard ADHD treatments or have increased side effects. The fifth edition of the DSM opened the way for a more detailed look at this overlap, and just a year after the new guidelines were adopted, a consortium (which I am a part of) at the Radboud University in Nijmegen (Netherlands) called NeuroIMAGE published a paper which showed that autistic traits in ADHD participants could be predicted by complex interactions between grey and white matter volumes in the brain. © 2016 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 22879 - Posted: 11.17.2016

By CASEY SCHWARTZ Have you ever been to Enfield? I had never even heard of it until I was 23 and living in London for graduate school. One afternoon, I received notification that a package whose arrival I had been anticipating for days had been bogged down in customs and was now in a FedEx warehouse in Enfield, an unremarkable London suburb. I was outside my flat within minutes of receiving this news and on the train to Enfield within the hour, staring through the window at the gray sky. The package in question, sent from Los Angeles, contained my monthly supply of Adderall. Adderall, the brand name for a mixture of amphetamine salts, is more strictly regulated in Britain than in the United States, where, the year before, in 2005, I became one of the millions of Americans to be prescribed a stimulant medication. The train to Enfield was hardly the greatest extreme to which I would go during the decade I was entangled with Adderall. I would open other people’s medicine cabinets, root through trash cans where I had previously disposed of pills, write friends’ college essays for barter. Once, while living in New Hampshire, I skipped a day of work to drive three hours each way to the health clinic where my prescription was still on file. Never was I more resourceful or unswerving than when I was devising ways to secure more Adderall. Adderall is prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a neurobehavioral condition marked by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that was first included in the D.S.M. in 1987 and predominantly seen in children. That condition, which has also been called Attention Deficit Disorder, has been increasingly diagnosed over recent decades: In the 1990s, an estimated 3 to 5 percent of school-age American children were believed to have A.D.H.D., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; by 2013, that figure was 11 percent. It continues to rise. And the increase in diagnoses has been followed by an increase in prescriptions. In 1990, 600,000 children were on stimulants, usually Ritalin, an older medication that often had to be taken multiple times a day. By 2013, 3.5 million children were on stimulants, and in many cases, the Ritalin had been replaced by Adderall, officially brought to market in 1996 as the new, upgraded choice for A.D.H.D. — more effective, longer lasting. © 2016 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 22748 - Posted: 10.12.2016

By Gareth Cook According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 5 percent of American children suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), yet the diagnosis is given to some 15 percent of American children, many of whom are placed on powerful drugs with lifelong consequences. This is the central fact of the journalist Alan Schwarz’s new book, ADHD Nation. Explaining this fact—how it is that perhaps two thirds of the children diagnosed with ADHD do not actually suffer from the disorder—is the book’s central mystery. The result is a damning indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, and an alarming portrait of what is being done to children in the name of mental health. What prompted you to write this book? In 2011, having spent four years exposing the dangers of concussions in the National Football League and youth sports for The New York Times, I wanted another project. I had heard that high school students in my native Westchester County (just north of New York City) were snorting Adderall before the S.A.T.'s to focus during the test. I was horrified and wanted to learn more. I saw it not as a "child psychiatry" story, and not as a "drug abuse" story, but one about academic pressure and the demands our children feel they're under. When I looked deeper, it was obvious that our nationwide system of ADHD treatment was completely scattershot—basically, many doctors were merely prescribing with little thought into whether a kid really had ADHD or not, and then the pills would be bought and sold among students who had no idea what they were messing with. I asked the ADHD and child-psychiatry establishment about this, and they denied it was happening. They denied that there were many false diagnoses. They denied that teenagers were buying and selling pills. They denied that the national diagnosis rates reported by the C.D.C.—then 9.5 percent of children aged 4-17, now 11 percent and still growing—were valid. They basically denied that anything about their world was malfunctioning at all. In the end, they doth protest too much. I wrote about 10 front-page stories for The New York Times on the subject from 2012-2014. © 2016 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 22747 - Posted: 10.12.2016

By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS Increasing numbers of children have high blood pressure, largely as a consequence of their obesity. A growing body of evidence suggests that high blood pressure may impair children’s cognitive skills, reducing their ability to remember, pay attention and organize facts. In the most comprehensive study to date, published on Thursday in The Journal of Pediatrics, 75 children ages 10 to 18 with untreated high blood pressure performed worse on several tests of cognitive function, compared with 75 peers who had normal blood pressure. The differences were subtle, and the new research does not prove that high blood pressure diminishes cognitive skills in children. Still, the findings set off alarm bells among some experts. “This study really shows there are some differences,” said Dr. David B. Kershaw, the director of pediatric nephrology at C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, who was not involved with the research. “This was not just random chance.” Dr. Marc B. Lande, a professor of pediatric nephrology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and his colleagues had children tested at four sites in three states, matching those with and without high blood pressure by age, maternal education, race, obesity levels and other factors. The researchers excluded children with learning disabilities and sleep problems, which can affect cognitive skills. Children with elevated blood pressure performed worse than their peers on tests of memory, processing speed and verbal skills, the researchers found. But all the scores were still in the normal range. Because of increased obesity, elevated blood pressure, also called hypertension, is no longer rare in children, though it is underdiagnosed. In a recent survey, about 3.5 percent of 14,187 children ages 3 to 18 had hypertension. © 2016 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 22709 - Posted: 09.29.2016

By Dwayne Godwin, Jorge Cham The brain processes a wealth of visual information in parallel so that we perceive the world around us in the blink of an eye Dwayne Godwin is a neuroscientist at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Jorge Cham draws the comic strip Piled Higher and Deeper at www.phdcomics.com. © 2016 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 10: Vision: From Eye to Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 7: Vision: From Eye to Brain
Link ID: 22689 - Posted: 09.24.2016

By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS Attention deficit disorder is the most common mental health diagnosis among children under 12 who die by suicide, a new study has found. Very few children aged 5 to 11 take their own lives, and little is known about these deaths. The new study, which included deaths in 17 states from 2003 to 2012, compared 87 children aged 5 to 11 who committed suicide with 606 adolescents aged 12 to 14 who did, to see how they differed. The research was published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics. About a third of the children of each group had a known mental health problem. The very young who died by suicide were most likely to have had attention deficit disorder, or A.D.D., with or without accompanying hyperactivity. By contrast, nearly two-thirds of early adolescents who took their lives struggled with depression. Suicide prevention has focused on identifying children struggling with depression; the new study provides an early hint that this strategy may not help the youngest suicide victims. “Maybe in young children, we need to look at behavioral markers,” said Jeffrey Bridge, the paper’s senior author and an epidemiologist at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, the vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, agreed. “Not everybody who is at risk for suicide has depression,” even among adults, said Dr. Harkavy-Friedman, who was not involved in the new research. Yet the new research does not definitively establish that attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D., are causal risk factors for suicide in children, Dr. Bridge said. Instead, the findings suggest that “suicide is potentially a more impulsive act among children.” © 2016 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 22668 - Posted: 09.19.2016