Study: Brain Scans Can Gauge Severity of ADHD Inattention
Brain scans may help predict how individuals perform on specific types of attention-related tasks, based on fMRI data collected during focus exercises included in a new study that may improve the evaluation and diagnosis of ADHD.
March 8, 2022
Can brain scans reveal specific regions of neurological impairment in individuals with ADHD? Can they be used to better diagnose ADHD and predict challenging tasks for individuals? Yes, say researchers who used data from the brain scans of 92 people to successfully measure and predict how well they would perform on tasks that required sustained focus and attention. The Yale study, published in March in Nature Human Behavior, may have implications for diagnosing ADHD, for predicting its severity, and for improving focus.1
Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of study participants as they performed exercises that required attention, and then linked that information to patterns of activity across different brain regions. Researchers then created a computational model that was so sensitive, it was able to predict how an individual would perform on an attention-related task, even when the brain was resting.
“We can take all those complex patterns and analyze the data to create a fingerprint of the brain’s ability to pay attention,” said researcher Marvin Chun, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Yale. 2
The measurement can help to diagnose ADHD and to improve an individual’s focus alongside neurofeedback, the study suggested.
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1Yoo, K., Rosenberg, M.D., Kwon, Y.H. et.al. (2022). A brain-based general measure of attention. Nat Hum Behav., https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-022-01301-1
2Hathaway, Bill. (2022). Attention! (Brain scans can tell if you are paying it). YaleNews, https://news.yale.edu/2022/03/03/attention-brain-scans-can-tell-if-you-are-paying-it