Inner ear disorders linked to hyperactivity

Inner-ear problems could be a cause of hyperactive behaviour, research, published on the BBC’s website, suggests. A study on mice, published in Science, said such problems caused changes in the brain that led to hyperactivity. It could lead to the development of new targets for behaviour disorder treatments, the US team says. A UK expert said the study’s findings were “intriguing” and should be investigated further.

Behavioural problems such as ADHD are usually thought to originate in the brain. But scientists have observed that children and teenagers with inner-ear disorders – especially those that affect hearing and balance – often have behavioural problems. However, no causal link has been found.

The researchers in this study suggest inner-ear disorders lead to problems in the brain which then also affect behaviour.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is thought to affect 2-5% of children and young people. Common symptoms include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Symptoms tend to be first noticed at an early age and it is normally diagnosed between the ages of three and seven.

Recent evidence showed a 50% rise in the use of drugs for the condition in England, with 657,000 prescriptions issued for drugs including

Prof Jean Hebert, the lead scientist, said: “Our study provides the first evidence that a sensory impairment, such as inner-ear dysfunction, can induce specific molecular changes in the brain that cause maladaptive [counterproductive] behaviours traditionally considered to originate exclusively in the brain.”

Anita Thapar, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Cardiff University’s Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, said it was an “intriguing study and set of findings”.

Article take in part from


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