People with ADHD struggle with two main neural circuit: Task oriented neural circuit and the default neural circuit) and also have a dysfunction in the Neurotransmitter called dopamine.
1. Dysfunction in The Neural circuits
There are two neural circuits that are involved in ADHD:
This includes the default neural network and the task neural network
The default Neural network: involves the parts of the brain that is responsible for being at rest. The areas become activated when we are not active. And these areas include: The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
Ii. Posterior cingulate cortex
Iii. And lateral parietal lobe
They work in synergy. Once one is activated the other gets activated
The second circuit is the Task Oriented network:
Which becomes activated when the brain is doing something or trying to achieve a goal. It includes the medial prefrontal cortex(MPC) and the MPC also helps in suppressing certain areas to make it less impulsive
How do these areas of the brain work differently in those with ADHD and those without?
If you are a person without ADHD these two neural circuits work in opposite dimension(when one is active, the other is deactivated) while in people with ADHD the neural circuits(task and default) tend to work at the same time
The Dopamine System
The second dysfunctionality is with the Dopamine System:
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in a lot of brain processes Including alertness, the feeling/urge to move and also required for focus and attention
Dopamine serves as the decider between those two neural circuits (default and task neural circuits)
It decides which should be active and which shouldn’t
The problem in those with ADHD in a publication that was published in the Journal of Biological psychology in 2015 is they tend to have low levels of dopamine
Which further gave rise to a hypothesis known as the “The low dopamine hypothesis for people with ADHD”
Which postulates that when there is low amount of dopamine in particular areas of the brain; it leads to unnecessary firing of neurons in the brain that are unrelated to the task they are trying to do.
This brings us to the coping strategies/behaviours that is seen amongst those with Untreated ADHD:
Children with ADHD tend to have high affinity for sugar. Rather than the usual pattern of children taking sugar and becoming more hyperactive in children with ADHD, they become calmer after taking sugar. So these children tend to be sugar addicts as a coping mechanism
For Adults, caffeine addicion, use of recreational drugs such as cocaine and amphetamine are all some of the coping strategies/behaviours that those with ADHD tend to engage in
And this is believed to be an attempt to gain access to dopamine.
Understanding the neurobiology of ADHD is important for understanding the treatment and coping strategies.
That is it for today folks. I will see you next week, God willing.