Researchers studying brain circuits involved in the development of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) found deviations in different aspects of the brain’s dopamine-mediated pleasure center related to gratification and motivation.

For children with ADHD, the motivation to carry out an activity is related to the gratification received when the objectives are met. This would explain why the level of attention varies according to the task, so playing an action packed video game where the gratification of hitting the target or winning the game is much more of a motivation than sitting in class and learning your vocabulary words.

Recent research has focused on the pleasure circuits and neuronal gratification areas located within part of the brain’s reward system. The ventral striatum is in charge of maintaining levels of motivation from the beginning to the end of the task and reinforcement. In ADHD children there must be large incentives with immediate gratification or the motivational levels will drop rapidly. The brain’s rewards system reinforces the gratification.

Eighty-four participants, ranging in age from  6 to 18, divided according to presence of ADHD symptoms. Half of the subjects (42) had ADHD and were in one group, the other was a control group with the same number of participants that showed no of mental or behavioral anomalies in the other. They were paired by sex and age.

The MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Images) showed the brain structures of all participants and the differences between those with ADHD and those without showed up in the structure of the ventral striatum, most particularly on the right side of the brain. There was lesser volume in this region of the ADHD children, and these differences were associated with symptoms of impulsiveness and hyperactivity.

This study reinforces previous finding as to the importance of the reward system in relation to impulse behavior and development of hyperactivity. From this study researchers believe ADHD is caused by alterations in the brain that affect cognitive learning, but also by oddities that can cause motivational shortcomings.

It is important to be able to pay attention when learning and converting to memory, so overcoming motivational problems is necessary for the material to be encoded to short-term memory. Although medication is available to manage and even out dopamine levels that serve to increase natural reward incentives, there is much to be said for the use of attention-grabbing videos versus printed text when teaching ADD/ADHD children as an alternative.

My name is Ron White, and I am a memory training expert, and two-time USA Memory Champion. I wanted to share this information in the hopes of finding new ways to treat the memory problems that are associated with ADD/ADHD.


Sources: – Paying Attention To The Pleasures Of ADHD:

Wikipedia – Reward System:

NIDA,  National Institute for Drug Abuse – Introduction to the Reward System: