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Link Identified Between Brain Enzyme and Symptoms of ADHD

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(Great Neck, N.Y. - May 12, 2009) — NARSAD Young Investigator Tracie Paine, Ph.D., was the lead author of a study by Harvard neuroscientists that identified a new link between a brain enzyme and attention deficits and hyperactivity, two key symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The research, performed at McLean Hospital and published online on April 22 by the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, suggests that an enzyme called protein kinase-A (PKA) plays an important role in keeping these symptoms in check.

When researchers selectively disrupted the function of PKA in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain associated with decision-making, rats became hyperactive and unable to pay attention to lights that provided hints about how to obtain food. Genetic disruption of a protein that is activated by PKA also produced inattention, identifying a chemical signaling pathway within the nerve cells of the prefrontal cortex that might be sluggish in individuals with attention disorders. Additional studies suggested that disruption of PKA did not change the rats’ desire for the food, only their ability to pay attention to information needed to obtain it.

“These studies point to a mechanism by which psychostimulant-like medications for the treatment of ADHD work. Such drugs have many effects on the brain - one of which is to increase the activity of PKA,” said Paine, who recently accepted a position as an assistant professor of neuroscience at Oberlin College.

“Problematically, these drugs also have undesirable side effects such as insomnia and a potential for abuse,” Paine said, adding that ”knowing the mechanism by which these drugs treat the symptoms of ADHD may lead to the development of new treatments that lack these side effects.”

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EmpowHER Guest

As much as ‘experts’ try to insist, according to the NIH, no pathology exists to identify ADHD. This would strongly uphold the notion that it’s a trait like being left or right handed. One of the greatest limits we place on human beings is the label mentally ill. But ADHD is not a mental illness. That’s total rubbish.

As a PhD myself, and former educator with a child who has the ADHD trait, we’ve used cognitive skill building techniques (Play Attention — http://www.playattention.com) and ADHD Nanny. We modified our parenting techniques as well. Low and behold, we’ve made incredible significant improvement for our son, Alex. Would I call these techniques and strategies ‘cures?’ No. Are they strategies that improve his quality of life? Yes. Is he mentally ill? He was never more mentally ill than someone who was born left handed or with crooked teeth. You don’t cure a trait. You can work with it to make vast improvements. That’s a fact. It’s neuroplasticity. Calling someone with the ADHD trait mentally ill is not only ridiculous (Dr. Hallowell is labeled ADHD — I doubt he considers himself mentally ill), it’s also enervates the person labeled. It’s more than past time to stop this label.

May 23, 2009 - 6:17pm

Those of us who live with ADD on a daily basis know there's something different that goes on in our brains between the times we can focus and the times we just simply cannot. It is so much more than a battle of will or desire, as some people think. I can actually at times hyperfocus for hours on end, accomplishing things with momentum and interest. At other times, it is nearly impossible. I understand why stimulant drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall help ADD patients and affect them differently than they affect the general population. But it would be wonderful if there were a natural supplement that could help us just as much as the chemical one.

Thanks for a really interesting post.

May 21, 2009 - 9:33am

This is great information! Perhaps there will be a way to enhance this enzyme with a natural supplement.

I was amazed a couple of years ago when I found out there is NO test that most docs give when it comes to ADD/ADHD. If there is no measure from a lab test, how do they know it's ADHD?

I was happy to find someone who could do a simple urine test and have my daughters brain levels tested and get an "ADD" diagnosis. She is on a natural supplement to assist with the active brain levels. I didn't want to dull her personality with drugs. I also worried about her later in life, being able to deal with out the drugs.

Thanks for this info!

May 19, 2009 - 10:19am
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