ADHD, substance abuse and conduct disorder develop from the same neurocognitive deficits

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Study suggests ways to treat these deficits before the psychiatric symptoms develop

Researchers at the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre have traced the origins of ADHD, substance abuse and conduct disorder, and found that they develop from the same neurocognitive deficits, which in turn explains why they often occur together. “Psychopathology exists on multiple continua of brain function. Some of these dimensions contribute to a multitude of problems, others contribute to specific problems. Together, they explain patterns of comorbidity such as why ADHD and conduct problems co-occur with substance misuse at such a high rate,” explained the study’s lead author, Professor Patricia Conrod. “Our findings suggest that risk for externalizing problems exist on a continuum in the general population, are easily measured and can be targeted before diagnosable problems arise. The findings also help reduce stigma and address some of the complexities when diagnosing and treating concurrent psychiatric problems. The implications are that clinicians can manage multiple psychiatric problems by focusing on how a young person is functioning on a fewkey neurocognitive dimensions. The next step is to develop evidence-based intervention strategies that will target these three areas of brain function”

Involuntary eye movement a foolproof indication for ADHD diagnosis

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Tel Aviv University researchers develop diagnostic tool for the most commonly misdiagnosed disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed – and misdiagnosed – behavioral disorder in children in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, there are currently no reliable physiological markers to diagnose ADHD. Doctors generally diagnose the disorder by recording a medical and social history of the patient and the family, discussing possible symptoms and observing the patient’s behavior. But an incorrect evaluation can lead to overmedication with Ritalin (methylphenidate), which has parents everywhere concerned.

Now a new study from Tel Aviv University researchers may provide the objective tool medical professionals need to accurately diagnose ADHD. According to the research, published in Vision Research, involuntary eye movements accurately reflect the presence of ADHD, as well as the benefits of medical stimulants that are used to treat the disorder.

Regular marijuana use bad for teens’ brains

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Psychology and public health experts weigh in on potential effects of legalization on youth

Frequent marijuana use can have a significant negative effect on the brains of teenagers and young adults, including cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and decreased IQ, according to psychologists discussing public health implications of marijuana legalization at the American Psychological Association’s 122nd Annual Convention.

“It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth,” said Krista Lisdahl, PhD, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Marijuana use is increasing, according to Lisdahl, who pointed to a 2012 study showing that 6.5 percent of high school seniors reported smoking marijuana daily, up from 2.4 percent in 1993. Additionally, 31 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 25) reported using marijuana in the last month. People who have become addicted to marijuana can lose an average of six IQ points by adulthood, according to Lisdahl, referring to a 2012 longitudinal study of 1,037 participants who were followed from birth to age 38.

Aggressive behavior increases adolescent drinking, depression doesn’t

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Adolescents who behave aggressively are more likely to drink alcohol and in larger quantities than their peers, according to a recent study completed in Finland. Depression and anxiety, on the other hand, were not linked to increased alcohol use. The study investigated the association between psychosocial problems and alcohol use among 4074 Finnish 13- to 18-year-old adolescents.

The results indicate that smoking and attention problems also increase the probability of alcohol use. Furthermore, among girls, early menarche and parental divorce are also associated with alcohol use. The study found aggressive behaviour to be more common in girls than in boys, which is a novel result.

Marital tension between mom and dad can harm each parent’s bond with child, study finds

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Children suffer consequences, too, when mom and dad argue or have tension in their relationship, experts warn.

Dads, in particular, let the negative emotions and tension from their marriage spill over and harm the bond they have with their child, says a new study’s lead author, psychologist Chrystyna D. Kouros, Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

The findings drive home the conclusion that the quality of a marriage is closely tied to each parent’s bond with their child, Kouros said.