Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago believed a link would be present between memory and emotional function in children affected by bipolar disorder or attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
Commonalities in children with ADHD and bipolar disorder include being irritable rather quickly, experience trouble focusing, and the frequency of acting impulsively.
To further analyze the theory, researchers used brain scans to locate any similarities in brain function between the two disorders.
Researchers analyzed children between 10 and 18 years old. Children with bipolar disorder, ADHD, and healthy children were all analyzed.
The prefrontal cortex of the brain is the primary location for processing memories, focusing, and behavior control. It was this location of the brain that showed dysfunction in children with bipolar disorder or ADHD, but more so in children with ADHD.
One aspect children with bipolar disorder experience as more difficult than children with ADHD is the ability to process emotion, researchers explain.
A growing concern for parents and physicians alike is the frequent incorrect diagnosis of what disorder, if any, a child has. This often leads to the improper or incorrect medication for children. Providing the wrong medication to a child with bipolar disorder or ADHD can lead to severe adverse affects on mood or health.
Finding additional differences between the two illnesses is a primary goal for experts at this time. Being able to properly differentiate between the two disorders, or classify a child as healthy, will decrease the number of children who are wrongfully medicated.