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The "ADHD Gene" and What it Means for Your Child

by Wendy Burt-Thomas

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While stimulant medications like Ritalin can help children with ADHD, it's important to note that they essentially only treat the symptoms - not the underlying cause - of the problem. This means that although the child may be been easier to “handle” at school, chances are that his/her grades are still sub-par.

To address the cause of ADHD - be it due to genetics, food dyes or metal toxicity - the child's weak cognitive skills (like the three types of attention) need to be strengthened. This is done by essentially “rewiring” the pathways of the brain through intensive “brain training.”

Take the recent Carnegie Mellon University brain imaging study which found that the brains of dyslexic students and other poor readers were permanently rewired to overcome reading deficits after 100 hours of intensive remedial instruction.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers found that prior to cognitive skills training, certain areas of the brain were significantly less activated among the poor readers than in the control group. But immediately after the brain training, many of the poor readers' brain areas activated at near-normal levels. Perhaps most impressive, one year later, the activation differences between the good and poor readers was almost nonexistent!

“This study demonstrates what we've known for years,” says Tanya Mitchell, Director of Training for LearningRx, a national brain training franchise. “In most cases, cognitive skills training can strengthen weak cognitive skills drastically - as much as three to five age levels. Over 50 percent of our ADHD students will discontinue medication while in training. There's no magic. We now know we can retrain the brain by increasing the connections between neurons and rewiring it to use the most efficient paths. Cognitive skills training does for the brain what exercise does for the body.”

For free issues of LearningRx magazine, visit

Wendy Burt-Thomas's third book, “The Writer's Digest Guide to Queries” hits stores December 2008.

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