Jeff Steinberg MD Logo

Headache and Pain Center of South Florida

What Tests Does a Neurologist do for ADHD?


Tests Done by a Neurologist for ADHD

ADHD or Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is a lifelong condition, and it can manifest in different ways in different people. For some people, it may manifest as a single, discrete disorder. Other people with the condition may have different symptoms that affect different areas of life. While it is usually diagnosed in childhood or early adolescence, it can manifest in adults.

Patient with ADHDConsequently, the tests neurologists may use to diagnose the condition vary depending on the adult’s Stage 1 or Stage 2 diagnosis. For someone who has a Stage 1 diagnosis, the test would likely focus on the hyperactive-impulsive or ADD subtypes of the condition. However, for someone who has a Stage 2 diagnosis, the test may focus more on the inattentive type of Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

As such, clinical neurology may need to meet with other specialists to develop a coherent test plan. Clinical neurology may also consult with other specialists, such as a psychiatrist, as needed. This article highlights the different tests neurologists may perform for adult patients with Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

1. Assessing The Brain

Brain imaging is a common way for a clinical-neurologist to assess the brain’s functioning. This may include brain imaging (e.g., PET scan, MRI) to detect genetic disorders that have been linked to specific types of brain diseases, or functional MRI (fMRI) to detect changes in the way the brain responds to different tasks.

When evaluating the function of the brain, clinical neurology often focuses on the areas that are likely responsible for the patient’s symptoms. For example, people with ADHD often have lower than average intelligence. This may lead clinical neurology to look for factors that may be related to low brain functioning, such as injury, illness, medication side effects, diet, and other environmental factors.

2. Brain–behavioral Interactions

Another way clinical-neurologist evaluates brain function is by looking for interactions between the brain and the nervous system. This is known as the “neurobiome,” and is perhaps most prominent in children, who may have underlying brain disorders. For example, a person with an underactive amygdala (the part of the brain that regulates emotion) may have difficulty controlling their emotions. This may have implications for social interaction and, as such, lead to a ” biosocial” problem, as the person may be perceived as ” cold” or ” distant” by those around them.

3. Assessment of Learning and Memory

Learning and memory are important components of cognitive function that are often assessed through neuropsychological testing. One way to do this is to look for evidence of dysfunction in areas that are likely to be involved in maintaining and retrieving memories. One common way to assess learning and memory is through the learning and memory portion of neuropsychological testing.

This includes tests that measure short- and long-term memory and recognition and recall. For example, the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) is a widely used test to assess short-term memory in children and adults. The Backward Visual Retention Test (BVRT) is a commonly used test to assess long-term memory in children and young adults. A number of other tests are also used to examine memory in the elderly, including the Mini-Mental State Examination, the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale, and the Clinical Dementia Rating.

How is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder diagnosed?

Diagnosing ADHD by a NeurologistFirst, clinical neurology must determine if the patient has an actual condition called ADHD. If not, the doctor may use diagnostic criteria to identify the patient’s condition. The diagnostic criteria for Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is the official classification and diagnostic guide for psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

While the above list of factors that may contribute to the development of symptoms in children with Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is certainly not meant to be exhaustive, it should give readers an idea of what may be considered. As there is no one test to diagnose the condition, clinical neurology may use a combination of the following items to make the diagnosis.

How is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Treated?

In order to effectively treat or manage an adult patient with Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a clinical-neurologist will likely need to follow a formalized protocol. The following is a non-exhaustive list of treatment options.

Medication: Medication is the most frequently used approach to treating the condition. It is often prescribed in combination with another medication to strengthen its effect.

Combination Therapy: Combination therapy is a type of treatment that may be used when medications alone fail to provide adequate relief. It is meant to be used in combination with medication. Excessive-Force Implementations: Excessive-force implementations are used when medications are not effective or available, or when a patient has failed to respond to medications.

As the exact cause of ADHD is unknown, it is believed to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Our Neurologist Fort Lauderdale can help patients understand their condition and develop strategies to deal with it.