Investigating how young adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder process sound

The way young adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) process sound will be investigated by HMRI researchers at the Centre for Mental Health Studies.

Mary-Claire Hanlon, a Psychology Honours student at the University of Newcastle under the supervision of Dr Frini Karayanidis and Associate Professor Ulrich Schall, is recruiting participants for the study investigating the role of sound and dopaminergic mechanisms (brain chemicals) in people with ADHD.

A/Professor Schall says people with ADHD have problems with impulsivity, attention, and hyperactivity, all of which point to a possible involvement of the brain's dopamine system and its regulation of pathways that deal with incoming messages to the brain.

"Dopamine is a brain chemical that helps us pay attention to the right things at the right time. In a crowded room, for example, with many people talking at once, you try to shield your brain from the overload to be able to pay attention to a person telling you a story."

"A person with ADHD may have a dysfunction in a system that protects the brain from overload of sounds especially when these occur close together."

"It is hoped this research will provide a better understanding of the processes that underlie the symptoms of ADHD and, if dopaminergic mechanisms are involved, will allow the development of medications with much better specificity and fewer side effects," says A/Professor Schall.

The study is recruiting people between 16 - 25 years who have been diagnosed with ADHD. The research involves a telephone screening interview and two 2 hour testing sessions where participants will listen to sounds via headphones, while an electroencephalogram (EEG) is recorded. The EEG is recorded by fitting the participant with an elastic cap that has attached surface electrodes.

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