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Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2009 Jul;13(4):299-304. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2008.06.003. Epub 2008 Jul 21.

The neurobiology of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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Department of Neuroscience, Pediatric Neurology Unit, Tor Vergata University of Rome, Rome, Italy.


ADHD is a brain based disorder with structural and functional abnormalities in widespread but specific areas of the brain. The most significant and consistent structural imaging findings include smaller total brain volumes, and reduced volumes in the right frontal lobe, right parietal cortex, caudate nucleus, cerebellar hemispheres, and posterior-inferior lobules of the cerebellar vermis. ADHD involves hypofunction of catecholaminergic circuits, particularly those that project to the prefrontal cortex. A minimum of 18 genes have been reported to be associated with the disorder; among them the DRD4 7-repeat allele has been found associated with a thinner prefrontal and posterior parietal cortex. Epigenetic factors acting during critical periods of prenatal and postnatal development may interact with genetic determinants. Methylphenidate, as well as the catecholaminergic nonstimulant atomoxetine, are effective in improving ADHD symptoms.

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