12 April 2009

A group of UQ neuroscientists is about to embark upon one of Australia's biggest studies into the relationship between genes and children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

A group of UQ neuroscientists is about to embark upon one of Australia's biggest studies into the relationship between genes and children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

In a national study of more than 600 families led by Associate Professor Mark Bellgrove at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), researchers hope to better understand what causes ADHD – a common behavioural condition that affects thousands of children and families in Australia.

There is already good research evidence to suggest that ADHD might have a strong genetic component, Dr Bellgrove said.

"Psychological studies have also shown that many children with ADHD experience cognitive problems – such as difficulties associated with focusing attention, remembering things, day-to-day planning or inhibiting behaviour," he said.

"However, the precise relationship between cognitive problems in children with ADHD and their inherited genes is not yet known."

Researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute, the Mater Children's Hospital Brisbane, the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne and Curtin University of Technology have been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) to investigate the relationship between genetics, cognitive problems and brain function in children with ADHD.

"By documenting cognitive ability in children with ADHD, researchers hope to determine genetic differences between those children with and without cognitive problems," Dr Bellgrove said.

"Furthermore, by examining brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) we will be able to determine how genes influence brain function in children with ADHD."

By understanding the genes that might influence cognitive function, it is hoped that this research may ultimately help medical practitioners to better target treatments for children and adolescents with ADHD.

The three-year study is scheduled to start later this month and involve an estimated 600 families who have a child diagnosed with ADHD.

Families interested in participating in the study can find out more by visiting www.adhdstudy.com.au

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For more information, please contact:
QBI Communications Office
Tel: +61 7 3346 6434

Notes to the Editor
QUEENSLAND BRAIN INSTITUTE
The Queensland Brain Institute was formed in 2003 as part of the Queensland Government’s Smart State Initiative, building on a long history of neuroscience at The University of Queensland. QBI is dedicated to understanding the molecular basis of brain function and applying this knowledge to the development of new therapeutics to treat brain and mental health disorders.