Journal Article Review: Reconceptualizing Adhd

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In the article Reconceptualizing ADHD, Tannock (2001) lays out the case that ADHD is a learning disability rather than a behavioral disorder and treatment should be modified to reflect this. The author contends that ADHD is a hereditary, brain-based disorder, where cognitive problems (rather than behavioral problems) are the primary characteristic. Numerous studies show clear differences in the way those with ADHD process information compared to those not diagnosed with ADHD. Yet current treatment approaches tend to focus on behavioral strategies rather than cognitive one. In one study participants are given a problem to solve using basic math skills and working memory functions. Participants with ADHD often made the same mistakes in answering the problem. When answering the problems brain imagining technology revealed that the ADHD participants activated visual processing centers of the brain while non-ADHD participants activated the parts of the brain associated with auditory processing and memory. Tannock claims that the scientific field has identified genes that are likely linked to ADHD and that ADHD symptoms are the likely result of an imbalance in dopamine levels. The author believes that students with ADHD have areas of weaker cognitive function especially with working memory and that these weaknesses can be improved with training and practice. Tannock cites studies published by The National Institute of Mental Health showing that specific regions of the brain are significantly smaller in participants with ADHD. The author notes that despite poor outcomes, the standard treatment for ADHD is interventions based on behavioral modification. On the other hand, ADHD medication fairs much better then behavioral plans but the effects of these medications are short lived and support the author’s theories. ADHD medication stimulants the executive functions that are characteristically less active ADHD patients. However these improvements...
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