Understanding ADHD and Learning Disability

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)and the learning disability which often accompanies it came up in conversation with students on the Family Support Course during my recent visit to the Bedford Row Family Project in Limerick. There was concern that ADHD was not being accurately diagnosed and that its treatment was inadequate at best.

In this first in a series of posts on ADHD Professor David Anderson explains how the current medical understanding of ADHD as merely a chemical imbalance in the levels of the two neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline is not working and shows that by investigating a strain of hyperactive fruit fly (Drosophila), ADHD and learning disability involve two separate nerve pathways in the brain. These new findings may help scientists discover more selective treatments for these surprisingly commonplace disorders.

If you suffer from ADHD and/or a learning disability then this video may help you connect your personal experience with what the scientists are now discovering

Further reading for those interested in the scientific experiments:

  1. Lebestky et al. (2009). Neuron, 64 (4), 522-36 PMID: 19945394
  2. Wang L, & Anderson DJ (2010). Nature, 463 (7278), 227-31 PMID: 19966787