Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hyperactivity Enables Children With ADHD To Stay Alert: Teachers Urged Not To Severely Limit That Activity

Date:
March 11, 2009
Source:
University of Central Florida
Summary:
In studies of 8- to 12-year-old boys, scientists found that children with ADHD became significantly more active than their typically developing peers during tasks that required them to remember and manipulate information. All of the children sat relatively still while watching Star Trek and painting on a computer program, tasks that did not challenge their working memory.

A new University of Central Florida study may explain why children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder move around a lot – it helps them stay alert enough to complete challenging tasks.

Related Articles


In studies of 8- to 12-year-old boys, Psychology Professor Mark D. Rapport found that children with and without ADHD sat relatively still while watching Star Wars and painting on a computer program.

All of the children became more active when they were required to remember and manipulate computer-generated letters, numbers and shapes for a short time. Children with ADHD became significantly more active – moving their hands and feet and swiveling in their chairs more – than their typically developing peers during those tasks.

Rapport's research indicates that children with ADHD need to move more to maintain the required level of alertness while performing tasks that challenge their working memory.

Performing math problems mentally and remembering multi-step directions are examples of tasks that require working memory, which involves remembering and manipulating information for a short time.

"We've known for years that children with ADHD are more active than their peers," said Rapport, whose findings are published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. "What we haven't known is why."

"They use movement to keep themselves alert," Rapport added. "They have a hard time sitting still unless they're in a highly stimulating environment where they don't need to use much working memory."

Rapport compared the children's movements during the tests to adults' tendency to fidget and move around in their chairs to stay alert during long meetings.

The findings have immediate implications for treating children with ADHD. Parents and educators can use a variety of available methods and strategies to minimize working memory failures. Providing written instructions, simplifying multi-step directions, and using poster checklists can help children with ADHD learn without overwhelming their working memories.

"When they are doing homework, let them fidget, stand up or chew gum," he said. "Unless their behavior is destructive, severely limiting their activity could be counterproductive."

Rapport's findings may also explain why stimulant medications improve the behavior of most children with ADHD. Those medications improve the physiological arousal of children with ADHD, increasing their alertness. Previous studies have shown that stimulant medications temporarily improve working memory abilities.

Rapport's research team studied 23 boys, including 12 who were diagnosed with ADHD. Each child took a variety of tests at the UCF Children's Learning Clinic on four consecutive Saturdays. Devices called actigraphs placed on both ankles and the non-dominant hand measured the frequency and intensity of each child's movement 16 times per second. The children were told they were wearing special watches that allowed them to play games.

In the first of the two published studies, the research team demonstrated that children with ADHD have significantly impaired visual and verbal working memory compared with their typically developing peers. In one test, the children were asked to reorder and recall the locations of dots on a computer screen. Compared with their typically developing peers, the children with ADHD performed much worse on that test – and on a similar one requiring them to reorder and recall sequences of numbers and letters.

The second study focused on the frequency and intensity of movement by the children while they were taking those two tests.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Central Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Central Florida. "Hyperactivity Enables Children With ADHD To Stay Alert: Teachers Urged Not To Severely Limit That Activity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309105038.htm>.
University of Central Florida. (2009, March 11). Hyperactivity Enables Children With ADHD To Stay Alert: Teachers Urged Not To Severely Limit That Activity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309105038.htm
University of Central Florida. "Hyperactivity Enables Children With ADHD To Stay Alert: Teachers Urged Not To Severely Limit That Activity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309105038.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins