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Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Novel and Emerging Strategies

Monitoring Brain Waves to Aid ADHD Diagnosis

In July of 2013, the FDA approved the use of a new brain-wave-monitoring system to assist physicians in diagnosing ADHD in children and adolescents aged 6 to 17. The system is called the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA). The non-invasive test takes about 15 to 20 minutes and involves placement of sensors on the scalp of the individual to monitor their brainwaves. Individuals with ADHD typically have a significantly higher theta/beta brainwave ratio, and the NEBA system can identify this phenomenon (Brauser 2013; FDA 2013).

However, not all physicians agree on the value of this new test. Some feel it could add value and improve ADHD diagnosis accuracy and possibly reduce unnecessary referrals, but others believe that current standards for ADHD diagnosis are sufficient. More evidence is needed before the value of the NEBA system can be stated unequivocally (Brauser 2013).

Drug Strategies in Development

Some new drugs being tested in clinical trials for the treatment of ADHD target additional neurotransmitters, notably acetylcholine, which is involved in learning. One double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial on a novel nicotinic-type acetylcholine receptor agonist (termed AZD3480 as of the time of this writing) showed a significant improvement in cognition, memory, attention and emotional responses in adults on 50 mg of this drug compared to controls (Potter 2013). Although this drug is still in development and studies are underway, it or others like it may represent a new effective generation of ADHD drugs in the future.