Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a limiting metabolic dysfunction of the Reticular Activating System, the center of consciousness that coordinates learning and memory, and which normally supplies the appropriate neural connections necessary for smooth information processing and clear, non-stressful attention. When neural building materials are lacking, demand for further connectivity cannot easily be fulfilled, interfering with the efficient processing of information, and frustrating the ADD/ADHD individual.
In other words, neural “hardware” remains in limited production (there’s not enough of it), and supply cannot keep up with the demand (increasing stimulus or “traffic”) for new neural connections within the Central Nervous System (CNS). Demands for new learning, memory, and the management of information processing cannot be satisfied, and the insufficient “connections” result in existing neural pathways being repeatedly overworked and over stressed, often resulting in complete gridlock or shutdown so that nothing gets processed thereafter. This, most noticeably, generates frustration, bewilderment and behavioral problems in the Attention Deficited individual.
The Reticular Activating System and its connections, are at the center of consciousness, attention and learning.
The Reticular Activating System appears to be intimately involved in the neural mechanisms which produce consciousness and focused attention, receiving impulses from the spinal cord and relaying them to the Thalamus, and from there to the Cortex, and back again in a feedback loop to the Hippocampus/Thalamus/ Hypothalamus and participating neural structures in order for learning and memory to take place. Without continual excitation of cortical neurons by reticular activation impulses, an individual is unconscious and cannot be aroused. When stimulation is enough for consciousness but not for attentiveness, ADD or LD results. If too activated, an individual cannot relax or concentrate (and is over-stimulated or hyperactive) often resulting in ADHD.
How Does This Limitation Affect An Individual’s Perceptual Abilities?
Although Attention Deficit starts in the brain, it really involves the entire sensorium (vision, smell, touch, hearing, etc.) as well as the inner world of cognition and emotion. When deprived of the required number of neural connections needed to process the “traffic” smoothly, competition between various stimulus results. Overly competitive stimulation from multiple external and internal sources (too much visual stimulation, too much sound stimulation, too many internal feelings and emotions, etc.) can cause undue frustration, irritation, aggression and anxiety. When the limited neural network is overly taxed in this regard, it becomes unable to “tune in” or focus on some stimulation, while “tuning out,” or “turning down” (attenuating) other stimulation.
This lack of ability to focus on some particular stimulus while attenuating others, creates undue “noise” in the perceptual systems within the brain. For the Attention Deficited individual, this perceptual “neural-noise” is so overly noxious and continuous that it appears to be competitively assaultive, crippling any attempt to concentrate on one stimulus while attenuating others. Feelings of helplessness and anxiety are often overwhelming, forcing an Attention Deficited individual to look for ways in which to survive the assaultive nature of their world.
A number of strategies are possible, but two are generally the most common and most easily documented. The first is that of an ADHD individual. ADHD’s are hypothesized to have ample supplies of Acetylcholine and clear, lipofuscin-free, unobstructed Cholinergic pathways, allowing them to actively compete and overwhelm the intrusive messages. Thus, ADHD individuals attempt to operate at a “noisier” level (becoming intensely hyperactive), trying to “shout-down” the crowded array of competing stimulation within their brain.
ADDs and LDs are hypothesized to have low Acetylcholine levels and adverse lipofuscin populations within the Cholinergic neural pathways, making a competitive response more difficult and trying. For both an ADD and LD individual, it becomes so “noisy” that it becomes necessary to shut down all processing of the senses altogether, avoiding and deflecting all stimulation. The incessant cacophony of “neural-noises” produces a powerfully competitive “numbing,” almost hypnotic agent, and ADHD individuals simply “give up” to the competitively powerful undifferentiated “white-neural-noise” being generated by their sensorium because the neural-thresholds of the sensorium have over-fired and can no longer be sustained. Thus, unlike other children, the ADD and LD individual simply “shut-down” and “tune-out,” producing high Theta and/or Alpha brain waves (see brain maps below.
Differences in activity in normal and ADD children
The brain maps on the left (1&2) are of normal individuals: a 14 year old female and 9 year old male. The ones on the right (3&4) are ADD individuals: a different 14 year old female and a different 9 year old male. Notice how the two ADD individuals (3&4) demonstrate high (more red) Theta and Alpha activity in their maps than do the normal individuals, respectively. High Theta wave activity is generally associated with drowsiness; High Alpha activity is generally associated with idleness. The ADD results (3&4) are characteristic of states of non-attentiveness, and too little stimulation of the reticular activating system, and probable inadequate number of connections. Thus, the ADD/LD child can effectively “tune-out” his/her environment. In contrast, the normal children’s results of low Alpha and Theta wave activity (1&2) are characteristic of alertness and focused attentiveness, demonstrating adequate stimulation of the reticular activating system, and thus, an adequate number of neural connections.
What Can Be Done To Correct This Dysfunction Of The Reticular Activating System?
Fortunately, when appropriate (1) neural building materials, (2) precursors to neurotransmitters and (3) an appropriate fund of neural buffers are supplied, neural networks may be created and forged quickly in order to meet the increasing demands of heavy neural traffic, especially in the prepubescent individual. In fact, given the chance, individual neurons can grow at the rate of 3-5mm per day! And, there are roughly 100 billion neurons in the brain to be developed, along with a staggering 900 billion supporting glial (“helper”) cells — a grand total of one trillion (1,000,000,000,000) cells to be nurtured — that’s 10 times the number of stars estimated to be in our galaxy!
Are These Neural Building Materials All That Important?
Yes, they are! One half of the dry weight of the brain (neurons, glial and brain cells) is made up of fatty acids and lipids. The “hard neural connections,” or synapses, between all these essential areas of the brain where the coordination of memory and learning take place is largely made possible by the structures of Fatty Acids and Phospholipids alone. And, the physical number of neural connections then potentiates further production of neurotransmitters and neural buffers, which in turn enhances memory processing and learning even more. If these essential building blocks of the brain’s “hardware” and “software” are not adequately provided for, then many “connections” will simply not be made or developed. The good news is that Växa’s Attend supplies these important factors!
The basic “Hardware” of the Central Nervous System must be in place in order for memory and learning to proceed efficiently. The more neurons there are that can make “connections” with other neurons, the more efficient and easy learning and remembering may become. Without such “connectivity,” learning is often frustrated and impaired as it is with Attention Deficited individuals. (Above is a diagram of a Multipolar neuron with multiple extensions from the cell body. Below is an actual micrograph of a Bipolar neuron with two extensions from the cell body.)