In my research I’ve found that scientists and doctors are studying the development of the human brain and how that development relates to ADHD. These studies have shown that the human brain has developmental milestones, times when certain areas of the brain are supposed to mature, activate, connect with other areas. If that development is arrested or delayed the resultant brain is considered underdeveloped.

Running fast just to stay in one place

The ADHD brain is a victim, supposedly, of a lack of development. On July 14th, 1996, results of a study by F. Xavier Castellanos, M.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health were released. In this study, Castellanos and his colleagues suggested that MRI’s (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) showed the existence of abnormalities in the brains of ADHDers. The differences were significant enough to be detectable, but not significant enough, as yet, to be used as a test for ADHD.

More information to support the reality of ADHD

A press release dated November 12th, 2007 discusses a study by a research team led by Philip Shaw, M.D. Of the NIMH Child Psychiatry Branch. A composite image created from many MRI’s was one of the more amazing products to come out of this study. It shows a delay of three years in the development of the brains of people diagnosed with ADHD.

There is no denying that our brains work differently, now science is finding ways to prove our brains are different. But science can’t say our brains are wrong, only that they developed in a different way.

But wait, delayed development?

This would tend to suggest that our brains will catch up and all will be well. I know this is not the reality, at least not in every case. Perhaps the development being delayed in one area makes certain cerebral functions unavailable at a critical time to facilitate the development of another area. Perhaps there is a part of the development that just never occurs and we struggle to conform with a world that does not recognize that we are missing one or more important tools.

Speaking of tools …

We all assume that a person with a hammer and some nails can nail things together. What if we looked closely and saw that the person had no hands or possibly no opposed digits. Maybe their thumbs were there and looked normal

but were less than functional in a minute mechanical way that left them struggling to hold that hammer. What study revealed that? Certainly not the one that looked at what age the thumb developed.

And the point is?

The bottom line for us is that we struggle and no one yet can tell us why. For us then, the answer to the question “How does an ADHD mind develop?” is “Who cares?!” or as Paul Simon said in the song Gumboots on the album Graceland: “What are you gonna do about it? That’s what I’d like to know!”

I guess we’re going to find out, aren’t we?



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    Last reviewed: 25 Nov 2011

APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2011). How Does an ADHD Mind Develop?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from



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