Researchers at the University of California - Davis Center for MIND and Brain and the University of California - Davis MIND Institute are the first to develop a method of easily distinguishing the two major types of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) according to an article in the Oct. 8, 2013, edition of the journal Biological Psychiatry.
The researchers noted differences in the alpha and beta brain waves of electroencephalograms (EEGs) administered to teens that had the inattentive form of ADHD, teens that had the combined form of ADHD, and teens that did not have ADHD when the trial participants attempted a computer task in which they received visual cues that could help aide their performance.
The alpha wave pattern of teens with the inattentive form of ADHD indicated these teens could not process visual cues quickly enough to succeed in the computer task.
The beta wave patterns of teens with the combined subtype of ADHD indicated a lack of ability to coordinate motor response to the cues in the computer task.
The study was conducted with 57 participants between 12 and 17 years of age. Twenty-three of the participants did not have ADHD and 17 participants had been diagnosed by physicians as having one of the two forms of ADHD. The diagnosis was supported by parental observations of behavior over a four year period.
This is the first reliable objective test for ADHD that does not include a purely descriptive diagnosis. No chemical or physical tests for ADHD exist.
The researchers expect their findings to be useful in determining the type of ADHD a child has and selecting the proper treatment.
This test may also reduce the number of people diagnosed as having ADHD when they do not. Parent-reported ADHD increased by 22 percent between 2003 and 2007. More than 5.5 million children under the age of 17 were diagnosed with ADHD in 2007.