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The Brain : Learning and Memory
CHAPTER 4. DISORDERS OF LEARNING it was estimated to affect 39 million people worldwide, three-quarters of whom are male. ADHD is not strictly considered a learning disorder. However, research shows that 20–25% of children with the condition have coexisting learning disabilities in reading, spelling or maths. Young children or teenagers with ADHD typically are hyperactive and have trouble paying attention and controlling their impulses. Researchers believe the condition results from a mix of genetic, environmental and neurological factors. Studies using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have identified several brain regions that differ in people with ADHD. These include the frontal lobe, which is important for executive functions such as planning and controlling attention, as well as regions involved in motor activity. ADHD appears to run in families. Close, or first-degree, relatives of people with ADHD are far more likely to also have the disorder, with the risk for siblings being two-to- three times as great as those of siblings without ADHD. The condition is treated with either, or both, behavioural therapy or specific drugs. There remains significant debate and controversy over both the diagnosis and management of ADHD, complicating studies on its effect on learning. Many medical conditions affect the health of the brain and therefore its ability to learn. This includes conditions present before birth, genetic disorders, or diseases or injuries acquired throughout life. The effects can be temporary: concussion, for example, results when the brain knocks against the inside of the skull, causing short- term symptoms including memory loss and difficulty concentrating. Hearing or speech language impairments, particularly if unrecognised, may affect communication in the classroom. Other conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, affect the brain areas crucial to learning and cause irreversible damage. OTHER CONDITIONS AFFECTING LEARNING AND MEMORY DID YOU KNOW? As of 2013, ADHD was estimated to affect 39 million people worldwide, three-quarters of whom are male.