Differences between a brain with ADHD and a neurotypical brain?


  • Key differences
  • Function
  • Structure
  • Diagnosing ADHD
  • Summary

Attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), a condition of neurodevelopment, causes brain differences related to behavior, attention, and activity levels. This includes impulsivity and hyperactivity.

The brain structure and function of people living with it and those without it differ. Therefore, understanding and treating common it symptoms and behaviors requires understanding these differences.

Learn more about the differences in the brains of people with it compared to neurotypical individuals and how to diagnose it .

What are the main differences between HTML and?

The brains of those with ADHD differ from those without. It causes differences in:

  • Brain structure
  • Brain function
  • brain development

These differences are related to the size of the brain, brain networks, and neurotransmitters. Some people with it have brain areas that are slower to mature or more active than neurotypical brains. As a child grows and matures, some brain differences can change.

According to older research, brain maturation depends on a child’s development stage. According to more senior ResearchTrusted Source, the method includes:

  • The brain is formed by the growth, positioning, and organization of neuronal units (the brain’s communication cells).
  • The development of myelin surrounding neurons provides efficient neuronal communication
  • The pruning or reorganization of inefficient or unnecessary neuronal circuits


ADHD affects brain functioning in several ways. This condition is associated with abnormal behavior, cognitive and motivational functions. It can affect moods, emotions, and brain cell connections. It can also affect the communication between different parts of the brain.

Neurons, or groups of nerve cells called brain networks, are the units that transmit information to and from the brain. People with it might have slower-developing brain networks that are less efficient at sending specific messages, behaviors, or leads. These brain networks could function differently, for example, regarding reward, focus, and movement.

Imaging tools, such as MRIs and X-rays, can detect subtle abnormalities in the structure and function of the brains in people with neurodevelopmental conditions, including it . For example, in imaging studies, people with it have an imbalanced brain network structure called structural connectivity. Functional connectivity is a term that describes the imbalance of how some brain networks work.

Researchers and scientists can compare the brain activity patterns of people with it to neurotypical individuals to determine how they differ.

Some brain regions in people with it are hyperactive, while others are hypoactive. This indicates that the brain may be unable to meet the task’s cognitive demands.

A person with it for example, may not be able to suppress brain activity within the default attention network as a task becomes more challenging. This could lead to greater distractibility.

A study by Trusted Source conducted in 2019 used resting-state Functional MRIs to observe brain circuitry in adults with it . Researchers have linked hyperactivity and restlessness to increased functional connectivity of specific brain regions. This suggests that inefficiencies of brain network processing may explain some it symptoms.

ADHD can affect executive function skills that are related to:

  • Attention
  • Focus
  • Concentration
  • Memory
  • Impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity
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  • social skills
  • decision-making
  • Planning
  • Motivation
  • task-switching
  • Learning from Past Mistakes


These differences affect several areas of the brain that are related to common it symptoms. These differences are reflected in several brain areas that correlate with common ADHD symptoms.

According to a 2017 studyTrusted Source, children with it have smaller brains and may need more time for their brains to mature. There are often differences in volume between brain regions. This includes the amygdala, hippocampus, and other areas related to memory, emotion regulation, motivation, and emotions. The size of the brain does not influence intelligence.

According to a publication from 2007 by the National Institutes of HealthTrustedSource, it children have delayed brain maturity in certain areas. The delays in the front cortex were most noticeable, which is related to cognitive, planning, and attention control. In addition, children with ADHD have a motor cortex that matures faster than usual. This may be related to symptoms like restlessness and fidgeting.

The Frontal Lobe is responsible for cognitive functions such as social behavior, attention, impulse control, and impulse management. Some areas of the frontal cortex may mature slower in it patients. This delay can cause cognitive dysfunction.

These two areas of the frontal cortex involve motor function and attentional ability. These brain areas may be less active in people with it.

Diagnose ADHD

People often show ADHD symptoms in their early years, but it is possible to have symptoms later in life. A person is usually diagnosed with ADHD as a child. For an adult or adolescent to be diagnosed with it , they must have shown symptoms before the age of 12.

To diagnose it (Trusted Source), a psychiatrist or psychologist who is an expert in it will use various methods to evaluate the patient, such as behavior checklists and tests. Interviews and observations by teachers, parents, or family members may be part of the evaluation.

A diagnosed with it must show chronic or long-lasting signs of hyperactivity, attention, or impulsivity. The symptoms must be detrimental to the development and functioning of the individual. The doctor will eliminate other possible causes of it symptoms, such as another medical or mental condition.

ADHD can be diagnosed by brain scans, which measure blood flow and brain activity.

  • Functional MRI
  • Single-photon computed tomography
  • PET scan
  • Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid System
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  • Summary
  • It is a disorder of neurodevelopment that affects brain development and function.
  • ADHD can also lead to delayed maturation or differences in the activity of specific brain regions. Differences in the it brain can impact thinking, emotions, and behavior.
  • Children who show these differences in the brain and display common symptoms are often diagnosed with it by doctors. It can be treated, and symptoms may ease as a child ages. It is often treated to improve academic performance and quality of life.