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Differentiating Between Childhood Bipolar Disorder and ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and childhood bipolar disorder are two disorders related to a child’s behavioural development. A child suffering from any one of the two disorders would exhibit a few common traits like attention problems, irritability and impulsiveness.

It is important that both the disorders are differentiated so that the proper medication is provided.

Memory Function in Childhood Bipolar Disorder and ADHD: A research conducted at the University of Illinois, Chicago, has come up with some interesting details with regards to the impact of emotion on the memory of children suffering from ADHD and bipolar disorder.

The research has used brain imaging in order to study the differences in the memory function of children and the research has also been published in the October 2010 issue of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The Study: Children suffering from these disorders were presented with a visual cue consisting of faces that exhibited emotions like anger and happiness and a few that contained no expression.

  • MRI was being used to monitor the brain activity in non-medicated children aged 10-18, with 23 of them suffering from bipolar disorder and 14 were suffering from ADHD.
  • The children were asked to hit a button if the same face that showed up two trials ago was repeated.
  • The researchers claim that the test which contains an emotional stimulus to it can be useful in studying the challenges faced by these children as far as the brain activity is concerned.
  • The research found that children suffering from ADHD were showing severe dysfunction in the pre-frontal cortex when compared to the ones suffering from bipolar disorder.
  • The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for all the cognitive activities like language, attention and memory.
  • Finally, the researchers have been able to associate pre-frontal cortex dysfunction to ADHD and dysfunction of brain’s emotion processing region to bipolar disorder.

Previously, child bipolar disorder and ADHD were analysed purely based on behavioural tests. Now the diagnosis can be done based on the brain’s activity. This can help provide proper medication to the different disorders as wrong medication may either worsen the case or sometimes show no development in the child whatsoever.

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