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- to 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 expected to find that mj intensifies ADHD-related brain alterations.  They, essentially, thought mj would add insult to injury (the injury being the decreased “integrity of functional networks” seen with ADHD).

networks

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 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.”  For 1, think spatial orientation toward what’s relevant and, for 2, think maintaining alertness.

The researchers described the first strengthening (1 above) as “maladaptive” because of its association with slower processing speed for those without ADHD.

But they saw the second (2 above) 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 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 and what kind of diversity surrounds you?

How I wish we had more research examining the reality 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.

Hello Stars, My Old Friends

This past weekend I attended a workshop on gratitude and joy at Esalen Institute on the coast of California near Monterey.

In the deep darkness, I looked up at the stars and felt awe and sadness as I noticed constellations I had long forgotten.  It’d been several years since I’d seen them and I remembered how much I once loved them and loved space…knowing our world is much bigger and we much smaller than we usually acknowledge.  20141026_d7000web_4604

The stars, when I can see how numerous and bright they are, remind me to focus on what really matters…our connections to each other however far apart we are.  We all love, we all suffer, and we all have the light of stars showing through, or beyond, the deep darkness above us.

This weekend, I am grateful for the stars, the deep darkness that let me see them, and for the reminder that they have been there all along.  For all of us.

P. S. James and Jane Baraz led the workshop.  James is co-author of Awakening Joy (link is to his blog).

 

Accomplishment or What Might Have Been?

Some intentions turn into accomplishments and some drift to What Might Have Been.  What guides intentions one way or the other?

Yesterday, I remembered one guide when my guitar teacher asked me to perform publicly three weeks from now:  a time-limited goal, with accountability.  I have practiced the song I am to play, on average, five minutes every two weeks for the last three months.  My goal has been to playwpid-4813 the song eventually and sooner rather than later.  Yesterday, “eventually” became three weeks from now.  And, with this goal change, I scheduled a daily practice of at least 10 minutes.  This is the power of a goal that has a near-future deadline…combined with accountability.  My guitar teacher is counting on me and there will be an audience…my guitar-playing just got real.

Where can you add a near-future deadline plus true accountability to shift an intention toward accomplishment and away from What Might Have Been?

Stuck On Your Carousel?

I have long loved carousels and, for some reason, began to love them even more after reading Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.  I find them enchanting.

But when I get stuck going round and round riding the same beast (or moving from one to another on the carousel), I know it’s time to get off it.

How does anybody do this? First you have to notice that you’re on your carousel. carousel_paris This means identifying what’s on it.

What thoughts, emotions, etc. are the beasts that call you to it? If you have ADHD, these may include boredom, frustration, the thought “Why bother?” or “I’ll do it later.”  Once you jump on one of these beasts, what does going round and round look like for you? Watching movies, playing video games, going online? Nothing wrong with these things.

If you know, though, that one round on the carousel is likely to lead to many others without your even noticing while it’s happening, consider seeing your carousel from a distance.

When you are off it, go ahead and try to create a visual of your carousel, including what thought, emotion, memory, etc. each beast represents and what behavior follows.  Then when you jump on your carousel, you have a better chance of noticing this and choosing whether to keep riding or step off.  And, unlike the poor souls of Bradbury’s story, you’ll be only minutes or hours older.