Learn more about the possible causes of ADHD.
Differences in brain anatomy and function
Brain-imaging studies have shown differences in brain structure and wiring between kids with ADHD and their peers. The brain develops in a similar way in both groups. But in kids with ADHD, development of certain areas of the brain is often delayed by about three years. Those delays are typically in the areas most involved in .
Differences also exist in how well certain parts of the brain communicate and work with each other. In kids with ADHD, that communication is less efficient than it is in most kids without ADHD. That can create problems with attention, impulse control, and motivation.
It’s not always easy to spot these problems, however. That’s because people with ADHD often have a few activities or tasks where their executive function works well. That happens when the task is especially interesting to them.
Watch as an expert explains more about the ADHD brain.
Genes and heredity
ADHD is one of the most common childhood conditions, and it tends to run in families. A child with ADHD has a one-in-four chance of having a parent with ADHD. It’s also likely that another close family member, such as a sibling, will also have ADHD.
The connection to learning differences
Having a learning difference doesn’t cause ADHD. But some issues frequently co-occur with ADHD. These include , , and . Kids with dyslexia, for instance, have a greater likelihood of also having ADHD than kids who don’t have dyslexia.
Knowing the causes of ADHD can help you better understand your child’s challenges. Learn about the connection between ADHD and anxiety. Find out about treatments for ADHD. You may also want to hear from a dad on how he moved past the guilt of “giving” his son ADHD.
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About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Thomas E. Brown, PhD is a clinical psychologist and clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.