Summary of ADHD: The Brain-Behaviour Connection by Dr. Joel Nigg Ph.D.

Summary of The Brain-Behaviour Connection - Dr. Joel Nigg Ph.D.

So this post is to summarise some of the current thinking in neuroscience around ADHD as discussed by Dr. Joel Nigg, Ph.D. in a free webinar on ADDitude which aired on 28 June 2016. My intention is to make webinars like this one a bit more accessible to the everyday person who might get a little lost in all the scientific jargon. I studied A-Level Biology and Chemistry and then Applied Genetics and the University of Liverpool before transferring to a Business Management degree so I have a reasonable basic scientific understanding, but I struggle to follow some of the webinars, I can’t be the only one!

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Neuroscience Basics (How the brain works)

Very basically, the brain consists of different areas, each playing a different role in helping us to function. These areas are connected together by axons, like little wires, which are wrapped in something called white matter or myelin sheath, like insulation. This insulation helps to transmit messages from one part of the brain to the other without losing any information so any damage to this can prevent the brain from working properly.

Up until now there has been a lot of focus on the actual brain tissue, the grey matter, with a suggestion that there is a slight reduction in the amount of grey matter in ADHD brains but now there is a shift in focus to the white matter, the insulation around the wires connecting the areas of the brain.

The white matter develops over time as we grow from infant, to child, to adult but in ADHD brains there seems to be slower development of this layer, and it can be underdeveloped, or thinner, than in ‘neurotypical’ brains. This would therefore explain why the brain does not function as it should do.

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Pokémon GO – Your Answer to Exercise Resistance?

Pokémon GO! Could it be the key to motivation to exercise for ADHD children and adults?

Pokémon GO! is sweeping the nation as it is released in the UK today, but children are not the only ones giving it a try. Could it help motivate those of us who really struggle to find exercise enjoyable to get outside and start walking?

Admittedly, this is not the post I was expecting to write today for ADHD Mum of Three, as a respectable and responsible 36 year old mother surely I should be groaning at the thought of another app that is going to drain the hours out of the lives of my children, and let’s be honest, my life too.

I am a gamer, I always have been, it gets my brain working, I get drawn in and time disappears. We call games ‘time vampires’ in our house, and I was in two minds as to whether or not to download Pokémon GO or not as I was a huge fan of Pokémon games when they first came out in the 1990’s.

However, I have been trying to get more exercise recently, I joined Weight Watchers a little while ago and exercise is one of the things that is really promoted. I did well over the first two or three weeks, I bought a fitbit, just the little zip one, and I started going on walks in parks and countryside nearby. I was excited to get my first badges awarded on fitbit, and it helped my weight loss, but alas, my motivation started to fade.

It was just a bit too boring to be honest, I had a couple of particular places to walk but even on a sunny day I was finding it more of a frustration to drive there, walk the same route and see the same trees and flowers. I need something more, I’m terrible at appreciating natural beauty. It takes less than two minutes looking at a sunset or at beautifully landscaped gardens before my brain thinks ‘done that, what next…’. I’m a nightmare in museums!

So, would Pokémon GO be a possible answer to my problems?

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Why Inattentive ADHD Often Goes Unnoticed

Inattentive ADHD Classroom Child School Identify

Girls with ADHD are less likely to be diagnosed because they are more likely to present with Inattentive Symptoms

According to the DSM-5 ADHD affects about 5% of children but occurs in boys more than girls at a ration of 2:1.1

Often girls with ADHD stay ‘under the radar’ in the classroom because girls are more likely to have the Predominantly Inattentive Presentation of ADHD, rather than Combined or Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation. See my guide here to understand the terms and to gain an overview of the different symptoms that are linked to each presentation.

I was one of those girls, albeit at a time before there had not been as much research into ADHD – particularly in the UK. That’s me in the photograph up there, ironically highlighted when the reality was just the opposite. I am 7 years old in that picture and in the equivalent class of Year 3. That year my parents would be told at parent’s evening that I was a daydreamer, I never seemed to be listening and I wouldn’t finish my work as quickly as other children. I could do better if I just applied myself, if I just made more effort. I didn’t look particularly different and I certainly didn’t know I was different, I just though I was bad.

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Adult ADHD Online Shopping Tips

Adult ADHD Online Shopping Tips Save Money Online and Avoid Common Pitfalls of Impulse Spending

Follow these Online Shopping Tips to Save Money and Avoid the Common ADHD Pitfalls of Impulse Buying!

There are plenty of ways to save money online but those of us with ADHD need to approach with caution! If you have read my post about saving money in-store then you will know that the biggest pitfall for shopping is impulse buying, we love a good bargain!

Shopping online is great for those of us who struggle to negotiate big stores, who feel anxious and stressed at the thought of going out into the throng of people all filling their trolleys, particularly if we have to shop at peak times when just finding a space in the car park can be a challenge.

There’s an incredible range of products available online too, pretty much anything you can think of is available somewhere and you don’t have to worry about shopping at unsocial hours. The shops are always open and there’s always a ‘Sale!’ on somewhere.

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Symptoms Checklist for Diagnosis of ADHD

ADHD Symptoms Checklist - Diagnostic Criteria

What are the main ADHD Symptoms and How do they Diagnose ADHD?

To obtain an ADHD diagnosis you must speak to a health professional, the usual first step would be to speak to your GP. If there is enough evidence to seek a referral you will then be referred to a specialist or consultant who will be able to assess and diagnose ADHD. Unfortunately in the UK there is a real need for ADHD specialists and waiting list times can be in excess of 18 months after referral.

At your first appointment the specialist will ask you a series of questions about ADHD symptoms that you may have now, and that you may remember experiencing as a child. I actually took along my mum to the appointment so that she could answer questions about my childhood that I struggle to remember. You may also be asked to complete a number of questionnaires to aid the consultant in reaching a diagnosis.

In the case of a child referral to a Community Paediatrician is usually made rather than a specific ADHD specialist. This means shorter referral times and the Paediatrician will have a broad knowledge of a number of conditions which may exhibit similar symptoms to ADHD. It is usual for the school setting to be involved in diagnosis, the Paediatrician may carry out observations in the school setting and the school will be asked to fill out a questionnaire to assess the symptoms of the child. The same questionnaire will be given to the parents/carer to assess symptoms shown in the home setting and these will be compared.

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Money Saving Tips – Curb Your ADHD Impulse Buys!

Adult ADHD Impulse Buying Managing Symptoms Saving Money

Shops want us to buy more stuff!

Shocking isn’t it? Well, no, of course not, but that’s the bottom line, and a lot of people with ADHD are prime candidates for seeing something new and shiny and on sale and just snapping it right up without really thinking it through.

How often do you go into a store, say, to pick up a few items from the supermarket on the way home, only to come out with a receipt showing 4 or 5 times what you had intended to spend. It may be that you decided to just go ahead and do the weekly shop while you were there, but most times, you’re so wound up trying to remember what you need that you look at everything. You notice a new product, or a product on sale, or a product you haven’t had in a while but you remember really liking it… It goes on and when you get to the checkout you look at the cashier and say ‘I only came in for a couple of things’ while you type in your PIN and hope that no-one asks how much you spent when you get home.

I have been there way too many times, I’ve been unpacking bags which take up all of the surfaces and spill onto the floor wondering where I’m going to actually put all this stuff. That’s why I’m going to give you some tips for cutting down on your spending, for curbing those little impulsive purchases and ultimately for saving money.

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Using Sand Timers as Part of Your Reward System for your ADHD Child

Sand Timer Reward System for SEN ADHD Child and Adult ADHD Parents

How can you use a sand timer as part of a reward system?

A couple of years ago I bought a set of three sand timers, each one is a different colour and lasts for a different length of time. There are a few different time intervals available but I chose 5, 15 and 30 minutes. The 30 minute timer, which is black, has become a firm favourite as part of our reward systems, not only for our youngest child, but also for my older two.

‘What kind of reward is a sand timer?’, you may be thinking. Well, it turns out it’s one of the most valuable gifts you can give your child. It’s your time.

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