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Braden Duffy

Mr. Benoit

December 14 2016

Research paper final draft

Racing Mind

An ADHD brain is a race car without brakes. Imagine how it would feel knowing there

are breaks but when the brake pedal is pushed it goes straight to the floor and the car is not

stopping. Squirrel! The brakes are working, but now the drivers headset is an issue, instead of

hearing just the drivers spotter the driver is hearing every racer and their spotters as well, how

does the driver focus? If you spend too much time in the pit, crossing the finish line first is out.

What then is needed to help this race car get to the finish line?

The racecar and its driver shows some of the issues that a person with Attention-Deficit

Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) goes through daily. Some people think ADHD individuals are

lazy, daydreamers, fidgety, distractible, emotional, and the list goes on. It may appear that way

to an outsider, but the brain of a person with ADHD is different in a few ways.

Initially research has shown that the brain of a person with ADHD is actually smaller.

The Healthline referenced National Center of Biotech Information(NCBI) “...smaller brains by

about three percent, although it is important to point out that intelligence is not affected by brain

size.” (Healthline). Some scientists thought that all of this was due to some kind of brain injury

or a birth defect. Due to more recent research and studies doctors have found a link between the

chemistry in the brain to the actions of the ADHD individual. “The cause of [ADHD] has been

linked with the brain's chemical system, not it's structure. Thus, [ADHD] is a problem with brain

chemistry - not brain damage or injury.” (Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D).


There are two chemicals that are low in an individual with ADHD. They are Dopamine

and Norepinephrine (nôrepəˈnefrin). What happens when these chemicals are low? Lets look at

the racecar again. Think of Dopamine as the brake fluid. When the fluid is low, your brakes are

weak, and sometimes do not work at all and the car cannot stop. Dopamine is the chemical that

tells the brain what is appropriate to do: is it okay to poke the person next to you, or to pick up

the stapler and click it while someone is talking to you? Here is the notable part, the ADHD

brain does not realize they are doing this. Compare it to the brake fluid being low and the check

engine light on the dashboard does not go on.

The spotter is the Norepinephrine, so “Low levels of Norepinephrine also make it very

difficult for ADHD Children/Adults to sustain their focus on a task, plan ahead, and understand

such concepts as sequence and time.” (Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D). The spotter is the one who tells

the driver who is where and what is happening ahead of the driver and any openings that the

driver should try to take. Norepinephrine helps guide a person in their daily tasks, helps get

them going, or with the planning of their projects along with their approding day.

Since both of these chemicals are low, the way an ADHD person deals with this is that

they seek something to replace the low chemicals. ADHD people can turn to addictions, not just

drug or alcohol; it could be video games, watching TV for hours on end, bowling, or adrenaline

producing activity. In regards to adrenaline some will do activities such as skydiving, driving

fast, starting into arguments, or procrastinating to do a project at the last minute. By doing this

they are put in a position of fight or flight. This allows them to focus a little better to finish the


The driver is in the pit and the pit crew realizes that the brake fluid is low and the check

engine light is not going on. The spotter realizes that the drivers head set is on an open channel.

That is what is going on with the brain of a person with ADHD, they have low Dopamine which

causes distraction and the inability to stop doing random acts, and low Norepinephrine makes it

hard to figuring out what is important. Race cars are built with the same materials, but

malfunctions make the difference


Works Cited

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Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Joseph M. Carver Ph.D., 04 Mar. 1998. Web. 06 Dec.

2016. <http://www.drjoecarver.com/clients/49355/File/Attention-


CHADD – The National Resource on ADHD. "The Science of ADHD." The Science of ADHD |

CHADD. CHADD The National Resource of ADHD, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.



Cherney, Kristeen, and Isabel Spahn. "ADHD and Brain Structure and Function." Healthline.

Ed. Timothy J. Legg. Healthline, 18 Mar. 2016. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.



Mayo Clinic Staff Print. "Adult Attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)." Overview -

Adult Attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 31

Mar. 2016. Web. 06 Dec. 2016. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-


Newmark, Sanford, MD. "A True ADHD Epidemic or an Epidemic of Overdiagnosis?"

Psychiatry Advisor. Psychiatry Advisor, 28 July 2015. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.



Schweitzer, MD, Tim D. Ely, Russell B. Hanford, Clint Kilts, Ph.D, Scott T. Grafton, MD, and

John Hoffman, MD. "Different Parts of Brain Are Activated in People With ADHD."

University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland Medical Center, 12 Nov.

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Spencer, Thomas J., Ariel Brown, Larry J. Seidman, Eve M. Valera, Nikos Makris, Alexandra

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UC Davis Health System, Department of Neurology. "UC Davis Department of Neurology -

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