Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder (ADHD)
Search For A Cure
Scientific Breakthroughs & Caregiver Tips
Is ADHD Hereditary?
Neuroimaging (pictures of blood flow in the brain) reveals distinctive anatomical and structural differences in the brains of people with ADHD, but what role does heredity play? Will the unraveling of the human DNA blueprint ultimately explain why some kids with ADHD are dreamy and distracted, while others are impulsive and reckless?
ADHD seems like a single disorder when doctors look at a waiting room full of children who can be helped by psychostimulant medications. However, genes may explain the characteristic differences in brain function shown with functional MRI (fMRI). Children with ADHD have fundamental dissimilarities in how their brains work to control impulsive behavior.
Genetic factors influence whether or not an individual will develop ADHD. The disorder tends to run in families. Many genes influence how the brain works. A number of different genes contribute to the incidence of ADHD.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed gene variants that lead to ADHD symptoms and behaviors. For example, variants in the Latrophilin 3 gene (LPHN3) act as a trigger for ADHD. Other genes — DRD4, SLC6A3 (DAT1) and DBH — have been widely studied and implicated in ADHD.
The combination of fMRI and genetic research may show whether some children are at higher risk for ADHD. Using non-invasive tools like fMRI, researchers have spent years mapping the brain and measuring activity in the prefrontal cortex [see Brain Science].
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