ADHD Videos

The Neuroscience of the ADHD Brain

Truths about the ADHD brain that most people don’t understand.

Brain scientists have found that deficiencies in specific neurotransmitters underlie many common disorders, including anxiety, mood disorders, anger-control problems, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

ADHD was the first disorder found to be the result of a deficiency of a specific neurotransmitter — in this case, norepinephrine. In this video, learn more about how the unique ADHD nervous system functions.

The Neuroscience of the ADHD Brain

ADHD brains have low levels of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is linked arm-in-arm with dopamine.

Dopamine is the thing that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure center.

The ADHD brain has impaired activity in four functional regions of the brain.

1. Frontal Cortex

This region controls high-level functions:

  • Attention
  • Executive Function
  • Organization

2. Limbic System

This region is located deeper in the brain. It regulates our emotions and attention.

3. Basal Ganglia

A deficiency here can cause inter-brain communication & information to “short-circuit.” That results in inattention or impulsivity.

4. Reticular Activating System

This is the major relay system among the many pathways that enter & leave the brain. A deficiency here can cause inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity.

ADHD is a complex neurological condition. For more about the ADHD brain, visit

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Larry Silver, M.D., is a member of ADDitude’s ADHD Medical Review Panel.