Recent findings presented at a November meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and reported in the Wall Street Journal revealed that children with diagnosed attention difficulties showed functional differences in a key part of the brain associated with important aspects of mental controls. The study looked at 19 children with attention difficulties, and a control group of 23, and conducted functional MRI scans to look at how their brains functioned when engaged in a memory task.
The fMRI scans revealed that the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, a part of the brain that coordinates mental activity, functioned differently in children with attention difficulties.
Another recent study, from researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center (associated with the NYU School of Medicine, where Dr. Yellin is on the faculty of the Department of Pediatrics), indicated that adults who were diagnosed with attention problems during their childhood have physically different brain structures, including decreased cortical thickness and gray matter volumes.
When considered together along with other studies indicating structural differences in areas such as the caudate nucleus (which plays an important role in memory and learning), a body of knowledge about differences in brain structures and functions in individuals who struggle with attention is beginning to emerge.