“Falling Letters,” Short Film on Atypical Attention

More than anything else what I like about his film is how it shows that the way that others respond matters.  At various times, we have the power to crush or uplift one another.  If your child has ADHD, consider giving her/him a hug.  If you have ADHD, give yourself and the child you were a hug.  Just to start.

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“Falling Letters”

Marijuana + ADHD = ?

My husband read my post below and, essentially, said, “Huh?” He suggested I keep it simple and get right to the answer to the question posed above.  Here it is:  A big-deal study showed that, contrary to expectations, marijuana (mj) had no effect on ADHD-related brain differences.  It had effects on the brain, of course, but these effects were separate from the effects of ADHD.  Details and other results, which are the ones of more interest to me, below.

An impressive group of scholars got together to examine the mj + ADHD question using 21-25-year-olds followed since elementary school as part of a large multi-site longitudinal study of ADHD known as MTA.  Comparing mj users (who used at least once/week) & non-users with & without ADHD, the group ventured they would find that mj intensifies ADHD-related brain alterations.  They thought mj would add insult to injury (injury being the decreased “integrity of functional networks” seen with ADHD).

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But they found no one-two punch.

ADHD was associated with decreased integrity of functional networks responsible for executive function and somatomotor control, but mj use affected different functional networks.

Interesting to me is that one of the mj-affected networks was the default mode network, which, when you have ADHD, fails to cooperate with the task-positive network (for more on this).  It raises the question of whether mj has an indirect effect on ADHD symptoms, even if no direct one.  (The other mj-affected network was the lateral visual one.)

Also interesting to me is that ADHD was associated with INCREASED functional network integrity for two networks:  1) “stronger integration of right posterior parietal cortex” within the dorsal attention network & 2) “stronger integration of left inferior premotor region within the cingulo-opercular network.”  Help with translation:  1) think spatial orientation toward what’s relevant; and 2) think maintaining alertness.

The researchers described the first strengthening as “maladaptive” because of its association with slower processing speed for those without ADHD.

They saw the second as helpful and suggest it “may reflect a compensatory adaptation – the strengthening of connections or recruitment of additional brain regions” for the sake of “maintaining normal cognitive performance.”

In almost a side-note kind of way, they note that their data support that ADHD-related differences seen within the somatomotor network “are a good candidate for imaging-based prediction of ADHD diagnosis,” as suggested by earlier research.  Wow.

Actual study here.

Show & Tell or Hide & Seek?

When one has a psychiatric diagnosis, questions about revelation come up.  A search for answers around revealing ADHD brings up onhide-seeke:  It depends.

What’s the context (work, school, home)? What’s the situation? Who are the parties involved (believers, non-believers, agnostics)? What are the stakes? Ultimately, what are the real (vs. mythical) pros and cons, short- and long-term? For ADHD, the only time I’ve seen the answer clearly lean toward “yes, tell” is at school for the purpose of working out accommodations.  At work, the answer may largely depend on the work culture.  How much diversity and what kind surrounds you?

How I wish we had more research examining the pros and cons of telling vs. staying quiet.

Go, Go, Go and Slow, Slow, Slow?

A few years ago, researchers at MIT showed that adults with ADHD have two brain networks that compete for their attention instead of “playing nice,” as they do for adults without ADHD.  These networks are essentially a go, go, go one that lights up when we have a task to do (“task-positive network”) and a slow, slow, slow one that activates when we have nothing to do and can daydream or let our minds wander (“defccv-jp-ngault mode network”).  Without ADHD, when one network has its turn to be active, the other one turns down…they cooperate.  With ADHD, they appear to often be active at the same time.  Imagine what that’s like.  If you have ADHD, you already know.  If only others could experience your brain to know what it’s like….

See for yourself.