From smoking during pregnancy to additives lurking on food, there is quite a bit of speculation about what causes ADHD—but no one knows of a sure cause. All we can do is treat ADHD through proper diagnosis, sessions with a mental health therapist and medication, if necessary. But recently, scientists at Trinity College Dublin discovered that a mutation in a single gene that’s involved in the functioning of the brain’s nervous system can lead to hyperactivity symptoms that are characteristic of ADHD.
The brain contains billions of nerve cells, all of which must be connected in a precise fashion to get the nervous system to work properly. The scientists discovered that a mutation in a single mouse gene, Elfn1, can have a large effect. The scientists researched the importance of the function played by Elfn1 and the protein it produces when expressed. Removing it from some mice and comparing the effects with the mice with normal genes did this.
There was clear evidence of a disturbance in brain function in the mice without Elfn1—some had seizures, and excessive hyperactivity was also observed. Further research will be done, but the possibility of knowing the cause of ADHD is exciting.
Contact Dr. Lawrence Tucker, an ADHD specialist and psychiatrist in Orange County, CA for more information on this finding.