Yet for most children with ADHD, the overall effects of these gene abnormalities appear small, suggesting that nongenetic factors also are important.

- Surgeon General

Note: the argument is that watching fast-paced TV will increase the attention problems of viewers (especially young children), not that fast-paced shows will be the cause of the viewer developing ADD/ADHD.

Effects of TV on Cognition

"Angeline Lillard and Jennifer Peterson, both of the University of Virginia's department of psychology, wanted to see whether watching fast-paced television had an immediate influence on kids' executive function -- skills including attention, working memory, problem solving and delay of gratification that are associated with success in school. Television's negative effect on executive function over the long term has been established, the researchers wrote Monday in the journal Pediatrics, but less is known about its immediate effects. To test what those might be, Lillard and Peterson randomly assigned 60 4-year-olds to three groups: one that watched nine minutes of a fast-paced, "very popular fantastical cartoon about an animated sponge that lives under the sea;" one that watched nine minutes of slower-paced programming from a PBS show "about a typical U.S. preschool-aged boy;" and a third group that was asked to draw for nine minutes with markers and crayons. Immediately after their viewing and drawing tasks were complete, the kids were asked to perform four tests to assess executive function.  Unfortunately for the denizens of Bikini Bottom, the kids who watched nine minutes of the frenetic high jinks of the "animated sponge" scored significantly worse than the other kids." -  Los Angeles Times (Sept 2011)  and  Pediatrics (Sept 2011)  and Medical News Today (Sept 2011)  and  USA Today (Sept 2011)  and  Science Daily (Sept 2011)  and  Mail Online (Sept 2011)  and  PsychCentral (Sept 2011)  and  Earth Sky (Sept 2011)  and  Obesity Panacea (Sept 2011)  and  The New York Times (Sept 2011)  and  San Francisco Chronicle (Sept 2011)  and  Psypost (Sept 2011)  and (Sept 2011)  and  Psychology Today (Sept 2011)  and  Live Science (Sept 2011)  and  US News Health (Sept 2011)  and  MedPage Today (Sept 2011)

"Christakis's mice were divided into two groups, one in a normal environment and one in which the mice were overstimulated. After the first 10 days of the mice's lives, the overstimulated mice's cartons were bombarded with audio from cartoons and flashing lights that were in rhythm with the audio for six hours a night. Their mothers also remained in the cartons with them. Then they tested cognition, behavior, and activity in the mice. They found that the overstimulated mice were hyperactive, took more risks, and had learning problems.” - Medical Daily (July 2012)  and  Scientific Reports (July 2012)  and  Seattle Mama Doc (Jan 2012)  and  You Tube (Dec 2011)  and  NCBI (July 2012)  and  International Business News (Feb 2012)  and  Neuro Research Project (July 2012)  and  Roots of Action (2012)  and  tvSmarter Blog (March 2014) 

"Middle-class 6-year-olds matched for sex, age, pretest WPPSI IQ, and TV-viewing time were blindly assigned to a restricted TV-viewing group or an unrestricted group. Restricted parents halved subjects' previous TV-viewing rates and interacted 20 min./day with subjects for a 6-week period. Unrestricted TV parents provided similar interactions but did not limit viewing. Results tentatively suggest that TV restriction enhanced Performance IQ, reading time, and reflective Matching Familiar Figures scores." - Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (Winter 1980)

"Watching too much television can change the structure of a child's brain in a damaging way, according to a new study. Researchers found that the more time a child spent viewing TV, the more profound the brain alterations appeared to be. The Japanese study looked at 276 children aged between five and 18, who watched between zero and four hours TV per day, with the average being about two hours. MRI brain scans showed children who spent the most hours in front of the box had greater amounts of grey matter in regions around the frontopolar cortex - the area at the front of the frontal lobe. But this increased volume was a negative thing as it was linked with lower verbal intelligence, said the authors, from Tohoku University in the city of Sendai. They suggested grey matter could be compared to body weight and said these brain areas need to be pruned during childhood in order to operate efficiently. ‘These areas show developmental cortical thinning during development, and children with superior IQs show the most vigorous cortical thinning in this area,’ the team wrote."  -   Daily Mail (Jan 2014)  and  Washington Post (Dec 2013)  and  Cerebral Cortex (Nov 2013)

"Subsequent work by Malach and colleagues has found that, when we're engaged in intense "sensorimotor processing" - and nothing is more intense than staring at a massive screen with Dolby surround sound while wearing 3-D glasses - we actually inhibit these prefrontal areas. The scientists argue that such "inactivation" allows us to lose ourself in the movie" - Frontal Cortex (Jan 2010)

"There was greater frontal lobe activation in children when they were engaged in a picture book reading task with their mothers, as opposed to passive viewing of a videotape in which the story was read to them. Social and verbal engagement of the mother in reading picture books with her young child may mediate frontal brain activity in the child." -  Pubmed (Oct 2009) 

"The EEG studies similarly show less mental stimulation, as measured by alpha brain-wave production, during viewing than during reading."  -  Scientific American (Feb 2002)


"It’s an assertion I’ve heard many times when a child has attention problems. Sometimes parents make the same point about television: My child can sit and watch for hours — he can’t have A.D.H.D." - The New York Times (May 2011)

"What's to blame for the rise in ADHD? Researchers point fingers at TV, genetics, overdiagnosis" - NBC News (Sept 2004)

Iowa Study - 2010

"That's because a new study led by three Iowa State University psychologists has found that both viewing television and playing video games are associated with increased attention problems in youths." - eScience News (July 2010)  and  Pediatrics (July 2010)  and  MedPage Today (July 2010)  and  Iowa State University (July 2010) 

Essex UK Study - 2009

"Conditioning attentional skills: examining the effects of the pace of television editing on children's attention"

"Methods: School children (aged 4–7 years) were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Each group was presented with either a fast- or slow-edit 3.5-min film of a narrator reading a children's story. Immediately following film presentation, both groups were presented with a continuous test of attention."

"Results: Performance varied according to experimental group and age. In particular, we found that children's orienting networks and error rates can be affected by a very short exposure to television."

"Conclusion: Just 3.5 min of watching television can have a differential effect on the viewer depending on the pacing of the film editing. These findings highlight the potential of experimentally manipulating television exposure in children and emphasize the need for more research in this previously under-explored topic." - Acta Pædiatrica (June 2009)

Baltimore Study - 2007

"Researchers found that children who watched more than two hours of television per day from age 2 1/2 until age 5 1/2 were more likely to develop sleep, attention, and aggressive behavior problems than those who watched less." - WebMD (Oct 2007)  via  Unplug Your Kids  (Oct 2007)

New Zealand Study - 2007

"The roughly 40 percent increase in attention problems among heavy TV viewers was observed in both boys and girls, and was independent of whether a diagnosis of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder was made prior to adolescence." - Reuters (Sept 2007) also  NZ Herald (Sept 2007)  also New Scientist (Sept 2007) also Pediatrics (Aug 2007)

New York Study - 2007

"Teenagers who watch television for three or more hours per day may have a higher risk of attention and learning difficulties in their adolescent and early adult years, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine." - (May 2007) and New Scientist (May 2007)

Seattle Study - 2007

"toddlers and babies who watched an hour a day of violent TV, on average, would double their risk of developing attention problems five years later, a report from Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute said." - Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Nov 2007)

"RESULTS. Viewing of educational television before age 3 was not associated with attentional problems 5 years later. However, viewing of either violent or non-violent entertainment television before age 3 was significantly associated with subsequent attentional problems, and the magnitude of the association was large. Viewing of any content type at ages 4 to 5 was not associated with subsequent problems." - Pediatrics - Abstract (Nov 2007)

Quoting from the Full Version: "The theory of formal features suggests that the fast pacing and rapid scene changes that are characteristic of television reward fixed attention to a constantly changing stimulus and do not reward self-directed attention to opportunities for learning. Here again, educational shows would be expected to be less damaging because their pacing is typically much slower."

New York Study - 2006

"This study examined whether high levels of television viewing are associated with attention problems and hyperactivity in preschool children."

"The limitations of this study do not diminish the veracity of the positive, and potentially disturbing, association between television viewing and ADHD-related behaviors as assessed via parent and teacher ratings. It is likely that many physicians, teachers, and other professionals who work with families of young children encourage parents to seek activities other than television viewing for their preschool children. However, this recommendation may have particular importance to parents of children with behavioral difficulties because of their tendency for social isolation and their need for the development of social skills."

- Journal of Pediatric Psychology (Sept 2006)

Seattle Study - 2004

A study looking at the link between TV viewing by young children and attention problems has found that "Frequent TV viewers in early childhood were most likely to score in the highest 10% for concentration problems, impulsiveness and restlessness". - USA Today (April 2004)  and  Pediatrics (April 2004)

Reasoning behind the above study

Support for the above study

"According to Dr. Christakis, the rapidly moving images on TV and in video games may rewire the brains of very young children, making it difficult for them to focus on slower tasks that require more thought. Others say that TV may, at least temporarily, idle the centers in the pre-frontal cortex that are responsible for organizing, planning, and sequencing thought." - Additude Mag

Massachusetts Study - 1989

"Family viewing patterns appear to be related to certain types of clinical indicators, especially attention deficit disorder and acting out. Of particular interest is the finding of a strong association between parental viewing habits and ADD on the part of children."  -  Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal (Fall 1989)

Hyperactivity and Lack of Sleep

"Of the 280 examined in the Pediatrics study, those who slept for fewer than eight hours were the most hyperactive." - BBC News (April 2009) 

"Reducing the amount of sleep students get at night has a direct impact on their performance at school during the day. According to classroom teachers, elementary and middle school students who stay up late exhibit more learning and attention problems, Brown Medical School and Bradley Hospital research shows." - Science Daily - (Nov 2005)

"TV Time Disrupts Tots' Sleep" - Health News (Oct 2005)

Neurofeedback & ADD/ADHD

"The study and 14 others were analyzed in the July issue of the Official Journal of the EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society. Ten of the studies, involving a total of nearly 500 children, used a control group. "The clinical effects of neurofeedback in the treatment of ADHD can be regarded as clinically meaningful," the authors concluded. "I look at this article, and I'm persuaded that there's something here," says Mayo's Jensen, who also is president and CEO of the REACH Institute, a nonprofit group that trains pediatric health practitioners in the latest mental health therapies. "Previously, I was very skeptical that this treatment had much to offer," says Barkley. He says of the German study, "It looks like based on this study that there might be some promise to it," and he stresses "might" and "some." He is not ready to embrace the technique. "Should [neurofeedback] be offered to the public?" he says. "My answer would be no."" - U.S. News (Sept 2009)

"ADHD patients play video games as part of treatment" - USA Today (March 2006)

"Epilepsy. ADD. Depression. PMS. Insomnia. What do all these conditions have in common? They're being treated with a new form of high-tech brain biofeedback." - Psychology Today (May 1998)

Neurofeedback - Wikipedia

Biofeedback Enhances ADHD Treatments

Attention deficit disorder? Try video games

Video games help hyperactive children

Brain-wave workout may help attention troubles

"What Can custom-made video games help kids with attention deficit disorder?" - Discover Magazine (March 2001)

"Effect of neurofeedback training on the neural substrates of selective attention in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study."

Electroencephalographic biofeedback of SMR and beta for treatment of attention deficit disorders in a clinical setting

"The Herliheys had decided to let their sons -- who show symptoms of attention-deficit disorder but have never been diagnosed -- try out a new treatment that uses video games to help children with attention problems."

A therapy that trains brains to alter mental state may help ADHD, says David Mattin

TV Limiting Technology

List & Comparison of TV blockers

Token Timer

TV Allowance

Power Cop

Play Limit

Time Machine

Eye Timer

Kid Exerciser - 123goTV

TV Be Gone

TV Be Gone - Article

Stanford Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (SMART) curriculum is being used in California and Michigan. SMART in San Francisco, SMART in Canada

The Gaming Krib Challenge - "The parent will now be able to limit the amount of time played with TV / video games / PC games / online activities and cell phone use after installing our suite of products."

Natural Environment

"More specifically, we’ll look the research suggesting greenery improves concentration, impulse control and hyperactivity in children."  -  Psychology Today (June 2013) 

"The more natural the outdoor environment, the greater the benefits seem to be. A recent study by Dawn Coe, PhD, at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, compared children’s activity levels on natural versus traditional playgrounds. The natural playground incorporated logs, flowers, trees, rocks, and a creek into its design, and the traditional playground featured colorful metal equipment. Children were more active in the natural setting."  -  Psychology Today (August 2013)  and  University of Tennessee (Oct 2012)

"Andrea Faber Taylor and Frances Kuo, researchers at the Human Environment Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have found that spending time in ordinary "green" settings—such as parks, farms or grassy backyards—reduces symptoms of ADHD when compared to time spent at indoor playgrounds and man-made recreation areas of concrete and asphalt. The findings were consistent regardless of the child's age, gender, family income, geographic region or severity of diagnosis." - Psychology Today (March 2012)

"Exactly the same findings were observed - students felt in a better mood after outdoor, natural walks and more connected with nature, yet they failed to anticipate the magnitude of these benefits." - BPS Research (Sept 2011)

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (2006)

"Why our children need to get outside and engage with nature"  -  The Guardian (August 2010)

"To escape the discomforts of mental fatigue, people often turn to activities that “capture" their attention. They find external events to distract them, so they don’t have to concentrate so hard. Watching TV, for instance, requires little willpower: the programs do the work, and the brain follows along... Soft fascination, on the other hand, is the kind of stimulation one finds on, say, a stroll along the beach or in the woods. Nothing overwhelms the attention, says Stephen, “and the beauty provides pleasure that complements the gentle stimulation." The brain can soak up pleasing images, but it can also wander, reflect, and recuperate."  -   Working Well Recourses (Nov 2009)  and  Psychology Today (August 2010)

"Results. In this national, nonprobability sample, green outdoor activities reduced symptoms significantly more than did activities conducted in other settings, even when activities were matched across settings. Findings were consistent across age, gender, and income groups; community types; geographic regions; and diagnoses.

Conclusions. Green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children across a wide range of individual, residential, and case characteristics."  -  American Journal of Public Health (Sept 2004)  and  Uplift Program (Sept 2004)

"Toys”R”Us has gotten a jump-start on the holiday market with a new television ad, in which a busload of schoolchildren are taken on “the best field trip they could wish for.” It’s hosted, according to the side of the bus, by the imaginary “Meet the Trees Foundation.” Just as the kids look ready to die of boredom during a round of “Name That Leaf,” there’s a surprise twist — they aren’t going to a boring forest, they’re going to “the world’s greatest toy store!”"  -  Salon (Oct 2013)

"A recent report from the UK National Trust attracted some media attention. It documents the fact that children in the UK spend less time outside than previous generations; stay closer to their houses; are less likely to walk to school; and are unable to identify many common wildlife species." - Psychology Today (April 2012)

"Braver, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, was one of five neuroscientists on an unusual journey. They spent a week in late May in this remote area of southern Utah, rafting the San Juan River, camping on the soft banks and hiking the tributary canyons.

It was a primitive trip with a sophisticated goal: to understand how heavy use of digital devices and other technology changes how we think and behave, and how a retreat into nature might reverse those effects." - Daily Good (Aug 2010)

"The numbers coincide with national polls indicating that children and teenagers play outdoors less than young people did in the past. Between 1997 and 2003, the proportion of children ages 9 to 12 who spent time hiking, walking, fishing, playing on the beach or gardening declined 50 percent, according to a University of Maryland study." - SF Gate (Oct 2007)

"In a typical week, only 6 percent of children ages nine to thirteen play outside on their own. Studies by the National Sporting Goods Association and by American Sports Data, a research firm, show a dramatic decline in the past decade in such outdoor activities as swimming and fishing. Even bike riding is  down 31 percent since 1995." - Alternet (March 2007)

"Nature Conservancy President Steve McCormick said the study suggests Americans and their children in particular are losing their connection to the natural world." - The Epoch Times (June 2006)

"Childhood pastimes are increasingly moving indoors" - Alternet (July 2005) 

More on ADD/ADHD

"In fact, studies have shown that ADD medications (one study used Ritalin[2] and another Wellbutrin[3]) actually curb cravings and amount of video game play." - Psychology Today (Feb 2014)  and  PubMed (May 2009)  and  PubMed (August 2010)

"... found in a study that 29% of children between 4 and 8 years of age with ASD were rated by their parents as having clinically significant symptoms of ADHD." - Psychology Today (Jan 2014)

"The latest survey found about 11 percent of children 4 through 17 had been diagnosed with ADHD. A 2007 survey put diagnoses at 9.5 percent of kids." - MSN (Nov 2013)

"Dr. Russell Barkley has highlighted tempo control differences for some time now, and the difference continues to be a point of reference in investigations of brain-based differences among folks with ADHD. In this 2003 study of time discrimination deficits, the authors conclude that these deficits have "cascaded effects on the temporal organization of behaviour in children and adolescents with ADHD..."" - Psychology Today (Oct 2013)

"10 Tips to Head Off ADHD" - Psychology Today (Sept 2013) 

"Boys with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder were more likely to spend excessive amounts of time playing video games than those with typical development, researchers found... Inattentive symptoms, in particular, were strongly associated with problematic video game use for both groups." - MedPage Today (July 2013) 

"Childhood attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may carry over into adulthood in 29% of cases, with a higher risk of other psychiatric disorders, a population-based study showed." - MedPage Today (March 2013) 

"Then there is a social price to be paid. Tolerance for boredom, particularly among adolescents, has been greatly reduced in a world where escape into the many screens of electronic entertainment is so easily accomplished. We have created a culture in which many young children and adolescents have grown used to being electronically over-stimulated from birth, a condition that makes meeting the offline routine and repetitive demands of home and school difficult for many of them to endure. And as on-line escape increasingly substitutes for off-line engagement, as virtual world competence is gained at the expense of real world experience, practice dealing with real life challenges, shouldering real life responsibilities, and developing real life skills can decline. Paying attention and sitting still for offline demands can feel really boring to do. Signs of boredom are distractibility and restlessness that are often labeled “attention deficit”, “hyperactivity,” or both—youthful behaviors that are challenging for adults to manage. So to solve the problems of inattention and restlessness we have partly culturally created, we prescribe psycho-stimulant medication to help unruly adolescents focus and settle down. In the process, young people are taught the habit of managing themselves psychologically through regularly taking medication." - Psychology Today (Aug 2012)

"In an American Journal of Psychiatry editorial, Rachel G. Klein Ph.D. reviews studies regarding the structure of the ADHD brain compared to controls (non-ADHD brains). The difference in the ADHD brain's cortical thinning is significant compared to a non-ADHD brain. In fact, there is almost no overlap between the ADHD brains and non-ADHD brains. This means that cortical thinning is seen almost exclusively in the ADHD brain."  -  Psychology Today (April 2011)

"While ADHD affects nearly 5% of Americans, an article from the January 2009 issue of the journal "Obesity" states that 26-61% of patients seeking weight loss treatment struggle with ADHD and obesity." - Psychology Today (April 2010)

"Ever find yourself sitting down at the computer just for a second to find out what other movie you saw that actress in, only to look up and realize the search has led to an hour of Googling? Thank dopamine. Our internal sense of time is believed to be controlled by the dopamine system. People with hyperactivity disorder have a shortage of dopamine in their brains, which a recent study  suggests may be at the root of the problem. For them even small stretches of time seem to drag."  -  Slate (Aug 2009)

"Fidgeting, as it turns out, helps kids with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder focus. So just like grown-ups need a cup of coffee before tackling a problem, kids with ADHD may tap their feet, swivel in their chairs or bounce in their seats while their brains are busily figuring out that math test." - (May 2009)

"Adult ADHD leads to more accidents and poorer performance at work" - BPS Research Today (Jan 2009) 

"Ritalin Wars"  -  The New York Times (Nov 2007)

"An estimated 8.7 percent of U.S. children age 8 to 15 meet diagnostic criteria for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, but fewer than half receive treatment, according to a new report."  -  Science Daily (Sept 2007)

"ADHD Appears To Be Associated With Depressed Dopamine Activity In The Brain"  -  Science Daily (Aug 2007)

"Nonmedicinal Treatment Touted For Preschoolers With ADHD"  -  Science Daily (Aug 2007)

"Visual Media and Young Children's Attention Spans"  -  Visual Media (1998)

Drug To Treat ADHD Has Similar Effect On Children With Reading Disorders - Science Daily (Dec 2004)

"Brain shrinkage in ADHD not caused by medications"  -  Eureka Alert (Oct 2002)

"Study Indicates Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder And Ritalin Prescriptions Are Rising Rapidly"  -  Science Daily (June 1999)

"Parent Management Training for Oppositional and Conduct Problem Children"  -  APA

ADHD - Data and Statistics -  CDC - Prevalence  and  CDC - Data

How Could TV Contribute to ADD/ADHD ?

According to this Scientific American article, the rapid pacing and scene changes typical of almost all television causes the adult brain to produce slower  brainwaves (this is part of why television is so mesmerizing.)

See also Brainwaves & TV

Note: Violent cartoons, commercials and MTV are much more fast-paced than "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood". The more fast-paced the TV show, the slower the brainwaves.

Presumably, television has a similar effect on young children of slowing down their brainwaves, hence the "zombie look".

But an important difference between adults and young children, is that the brains of young children are much more plastic (or malleable) than those of adults. How young children spend their time every day will effect how their brains become wired.

If young children are spending 2-3 hours, every day, watching TV, then that means they are spending 2-3 hours every day with their brainwaves artificially slowed down. Could this effect how their brains wire themselves? Critical period

Normal everyday active interactions help children learn to focus their attention. Could hours spent every day with their attention "grabbed" by the TV, be teaching their brains to slow down and disengage? Could it be that someone with slower (than normal) brainwaves finds it difficult to focus unless their attention is "grabbed" by fast moving images?

"...dopamine is seen as rewarding us for paying attention, especially to things that are novel and stimulating. Screen entertainment causes our brain to release dopamine. It is increasingly clear that ADHD is linked to a change in dopamine functioning. Genes necessary for sjmthesis, uptake and binding have been implicated in ADHD, and dopamine underfunctioning is also found in the Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat animal model of ADHD. This underfunctioning of dopamine may fail to reward the brain's attention systems, so they do not function effectively (Sagvolden et al, 2005). Interestingly, adults with attention deficit disorder given dopamine-boosting methylphenidate (Ritalin) before doing a maths test find it easier to concentrate. This is partly because the task seems more interesting." - Encyclopedia Britannica

"Volkow recently found that adults with attention deficit disorder who took dopamine-boosting Ritalin before taking a math test found it easier to concentrate, in part, because the task seemed more interesting, so they felt more motivated to do the problem." - Psychology Today (Nov 2004)

Orienting Response

"Children’s programmers use a technique called the “orienting reflex," known as OR, to capture and keep a child’s attention. OR works in this way: If we see or hear something the brain doesn’t recognize as the correct sequence or a typical life event — such as a dancing alphabet or quick zooms and pans, we focus on it until the brain recognizes that it doesn’t pose a threat. The problem with watching too many programs that rely on OR is that real life becomes slow and boring by comparison."

“We think that with continued exposure to high intensity, unrealistic action, you’re conditioning the mind to expect that level of input,” Christakis explains. When the child doesn’t get the fast-paced input that television provides, he or she becomes bored and inattentive." - NBC News (Sept 2004)

"What's to blame for the rise in ADHD? Researchers point fingers at TV, genetics, overdiagnosis" - NBC News (Sept 2004)

"That zoned-out, transfixed gaze that comes over your kid’s face is the precise effect intended by many TV producers. When fast edits and scene changes flash across the screen, the brain works hard to comprehend them. Because the cuts are so unlike real life or real time, the viewer is focused but not actually concentrating or comprehending. This phenomenon, known as the orienting reflex, may contribute to a child’s impatience with our slow and impossibly dull real world." - MSNBC Health & Fitness

Slow Brainwaves and ADHD

"The first brain wave test to diagnose attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will be hitting the market following recent approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA is permitting marketing of the first ever such medical device that, when used on children aged 6 to 17 years as part of a complete medical and psychological examination, can help confirm a diagnosis of ADHD. The device is called the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) System. Based on electroencephalogram (EEG) technology, the 15- to 20-minute noninvasive test calculates the ratio of theta and beta brain waves. Experts have shown the theta/beta ratio to be higher in children and adolescents with ADHD than in children without it."Contemporary Pediatrics  (July 2013)  and  Psychology Today  (July 2013)

"Children with AD/HD had elevated levels of absolute delta and theta power, and decreased levels of absolute beta and gamma power, compared to controls. With relative power measures, children with AD/HD showed enhanced delta and theta activity, with reduced alpha, beta and gamma activity. Inattention scores on the Conners’ Parent Rating Scale were negatively correlated with absolute gamma." - Science Direct (April 2010)

"Beta waves are the target of therapies for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. "It is exactly these higher-frequency brain waves that are, in children with ADHD, weaker compared with those in healthy children" - Scientific American Mind (Feb 2006)

"New Haven, Conn. -- The drug methylphenidate (brand name Ritalin) increased activity in brains of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as those with a reading disorder, researchers at Yale report in the American Journal of Psychiatry. "During a test of divided attention, Ritalin increased activation in the basal ganglia, a structure of the brain involved in cognition and behavior," said first author Keith Shafritz, former graduate student in the interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at Yale and now a research associate at Duke University Medical Center. "We saw this activation in children with ADHD and those with reading disorder."  -  Science Daily (Dec 2004)

"Reaction time can be crucial, and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be out of step. A new study says that non-medicated ADHD kids are three times slower making quick decisions involving different tasks than their non-ADHD counterparts. Slower reaction times, however, vanished when ADHD children were on methylphenidate (Ritalin), the most commonly used drug prescribed for the disorder. The study -- funded by the National Institutes of Health -- was published in the June issue of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology."  -  Science Daily (Aug 2000)

Slow Brainwaves and ADHD

"Studies suggest that in ADHD, the brain generates insufficient beta waves, which are associated with focus and attention, and an overabundance of lower-frequency theta waves, produced during periods of daydreaming or drowsiness. " - U.S. News (Sept 2009)

"Electroencephalographic Profiles of Children with Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Review of the Literature"

"Compared with controls, the clinical groups demonstrated the increased slow-wave and reduced fast-wave activity commonly reported in the ADHD literature.

"This study implies that individuals diagnosed with ADHD show excessively slow brainwave activity when compared to non-diagnosed individuals and that perhaps this slower activity results in a decreased ability of self-regulation and control."

"In terms of resting EEG, elevated relative theta power, and reduced relative alpha and beta, together with elevated theta/alpha and theta/beta ratios, are most reliably associated with AD/HD. Theta/alpha and theta/beta ratios also discriminate diagnostic subgroups of AD/HD. Recent studies of EEG heterogeneity in this disorder indicate the existence of different profiles of cortical anomalies which may cut across diagnostic types."Clinical Neurophisiology (Sept 2002) 

"How to use qEEG to Diagnose ADHD"  -  Health and Life (Jan 2010)

Nasa: "As the scientists compiled the data, they were struck by the similarity between the brain waves of disengaged pilots and the brain waves of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In both cases, brain waves slowed as engagement decreased."

New test measures a child's brain waves to detect ADHD

Working Memory and ADHD

"More striking is that every single prodigy scored off the charts in working memory -- better than 99 percent of the general population. In fact, six out of the eight prodigies scored at the 99.9th percentile! Working memory isn't solely the ability to memorize a string of digits. That's short-term memory. Instead, working memory involves the ability to hold information in memory while being able to manipulate and process other incoming information." - Psychology Today (July 2012)

"A fascinating paper by Carsten De Dreu, Bernard Nijstad, Matthijs Baas, Inge Wolsink, and Marieke Roskes in the May, 2012 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that people’s working memory capacity may also play a role in the creativity on display." - Psychology Today (May 2012)

"Dyscalculia and Working Memory" - Psychology Today (Jan 2012)

"In a provocative new paper, Hambrick suggests working memory capacity -- which is closely related to general intelligence -- may sometimes be the deciding factor between good and great." - Science Daily (Oct 2011)

"Working memory, housed in the prefrontal cortex, is strongly related to executive control. People with less working memory have poor executive functioning and training working memory improves executive control. Because of this, Katrijn Houben and her colleagues at Maastricht University in the Netherlands set out to test whether strengthening people's working memory might help them control their impulses."  -  Psychology Today (July 2011)

"One useful tool to identify and support students with working memory impairments is the Automated Working Memory Assessment (AWMA; Alloway, 2007 published by Pearson). The benefit of the AWMA is that it is designed to provide a practical and convenient way for non-expert assessors such as teachers to screen their pupils for significant working memory problems, with a user-friendly interface. The automated presentation and scoring of tasks provide consistency in presentation of stimuli across participants, thus reducing experimenter error." - Psychology Today (Jan 2011)

"Working memory is a better predictor of academic success than IQ" - Psychology Today (Dec 2010)

"Working memory is the ability to actively hold information in the mind. Recent results demonstrate that working memory is organized by oscillatory processes in the theta and gamma frequency range." - Current Biology (June 2010)

"The kind of play that educators and psychologists say encourages executive function is sustained, elaborate imaginary play where kids make a plan, stay in character (doctor, teacher, sales person), and live in that alternate world for an extended period of time. " - (May 2010)

"The researchers say this shows that training in working memory can have significant effects in other cognitive skills, even in four- and five-year-olds. Since improving working memory has been shown to reduce symptoms of ADHD in older kids, they say their short training program might also be effective for preschoolers."Cognitive Daily (March 2009) 

"But whatever their working environment, it's clear that some people are simply better at focusing on the task at hand. What makes people's minds more or less likely to wander? Several studies point to working memory capacity as the key."Cognitive Daily (March 2009) 

"It has generally been shown that the more working memory capacity a person has, the better their performance on academic tasks such as problem solving and reasoning." - Science 2.0 (Dec 2008)

"ADD and Working Memory"  - (Sept 2008)

"Researchers gathered four groups of volunteers and trained their working memories using a complex training task called "dual n-back training," which presented both auditory and visual cues that participants had to temporarily store and recall." - Science Daily (June 2008)

"Brain-training efforts designed to improve working memory can also boost scores in general problem-solving ability and improve fluid intelligence, according to new University of Michigan research." - Science Daily (May 2008)

"When her son Alex was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at the age of 10, Karen George was reluctant to put him on medication. Instead, she enrolled him in a clinical trial designed to test the efficacy of a brain stimulation program made by Cogmed, a private company that uses computer programs to exercise parts of the brain responsible for short-term memory."  -  National Post (2008)

"The findings validate that working memory training makes significant and lasting improvements in the lives of students who suffer from attention problems," said Bozylinski. "This is very promising for a range of people who would otherwise struggle with these debilitating issues for the rest of their lives." -  Medical News Today (Dec 2007) 

"This study shows that WM [working memory] can be improved by training in children with ADHD. This training also improved response inhibition and reasoning and resulted in a reduction of the parent-rated inattentive symptoms of ADHD."  -  PubMed (Feb 2005)

"Functional imaging of human cortex implicates a diverse network of brain regions supporting working memory — the capacity to hold and manipulate information for short periods of time. Although we are beginning to map out the brain networks supporting working memory, little is known about its physiological basis. We analyzed intracranial recordings from two epileptic patients as they performed a working memory task. Spectral analyses revealed that, in both patients, gamma (30–60 Hz) oscillations increased approximately linearly with memory load, tracking closely with memory load over the course of the trial. This constitutes the first evidence that gamma oscillations, widely implicated in perceptual processes, support the maintenance of multiple items in working memory." -  Cerebral Cortex (2003) 

Online Neuro-Cognitive Programs for ADHD - Attengo

"Brain Workshop is a free open-source version of the dual n-back brain training exercise."  -  Brain Workshop

Working Memory & Gamma Brainwaves

"Functional imaging of human cortex implicates a diverse network of brain regions supporting working memory — the capacity to hold and manipulate information for short periods of time. Although we are beginning to map out the brain networks supporting working memory, little is known about its physiological basis. We analyzed intracranial recordings from two epileptic patients as they performed a working memory task. Spectral analyses revealed that, in both patients, gamma (30–60 Hz) oscillations increased approximately linearly with memory load, tracking closely with memory load over the course of the trial. This constitutes the first evidence that gamma oscillations, widely implicated in perceptual processes, support the maintenance of multiple items in working memory." -  Cerebral Cortex (2003) 

"Working memory is the ability to actively hold information in the mind. Recent results demonstrate that working memory is organized by oscillatory processes in the theta and gamma frequency range." - Current Biology (June 2010)

"Maintenance of an increasing number of items elicited an incrementally negative shift of the DC potential and an increase in MTL gamma-band activity." - Journal of Neuroscience (July 2007)

"Studies of working memory load effects on human EEG power have indicated divergent effects in different frequency bands. Although gamma power typically increases with load, the load dependency of the lower frequency theta and alpha bands is uncertain." -  Cerebral Cortex (2008)

Games to Improve Working Memory

"What is surprising is what else it improved. In a 2008 study, Susanne Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl, now of the University of Maryland, found that young adults who practiced a stripped-down, less cartoonish version of the game also showed improvement in a fundamental cognitive ability known as “fluid” intelligence: the capacity to solve novel problems, to learn, to reason, to see connections and to get to the bottom of things. The implication was that playing the game literally makes people smarter." - The New York Times (April 2012)

"Various techniques are reported in the research literature, and the best results seem to come from n-back methods. One study by Verhaeghen and colleagues show that memory span could be increased from one to four steps back with 10 hours (1 hr/session) of N-back training." - Psychology Today (March 2012)

"Research has closely linked working memory to fluid intelligence." - Psychology Today (March 2012)

"Using Games to Improve Working Memory" -  Memory Improvement

"“Research suggests that differences in attentional control abilities emerge early in development and that children with better attentional control subsequently learn better in academic settings,” said Sam Wass of the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, University of London. “The connection is an intuitively obvious one: the better a child is at concentrating on one object, such as a book, and ignoring distractions, for instance people moving around a room, the better that child is going to learn. We show that attentional control abilities can be trained at a much earlier age than had previously been thought possible.”

The researchers trained 11-month-old infants to direct their gaze toward images they observed on a computer screen. For example, in one task, a butterfly flew only as long as the babies kept their eyes on it while other distracting elements appeared on screen. Infants visited the lab five times over the course of 15 days. Half of the 42 babies took part in training, while the other half watched TV. Each child was tested for cognitive abilities at the beginning and end of the study.

Trained infants rapidly improved their ability to focus their attention for longer periods and to shift their attention from one point to another. They also showed improvements in their ability to spot patterns and small but significant changes in their spontaneous looking behavior while playing with toys.

“Our results appeared to show an improved ability to alter the frequency of eye movements in response to context,” Wass said. “In the real world, sometimes we want to be able to focus on one object of interest and ignore distractions, and sometimes we want to be able to shift the focus of our attention rapidly around a room—for example, for language learning in social situations. This flexibility in the allocation of attention appeared to improve after training.”

The fact that the babies’ improvements in concentration transferred to a range of tasks supports the notion that there is greater plasticity in the unspecialized infant brain." - (Sept 2011)

"Research Finds Puzzle Games Improve 'Working Memory' "Game Politics (June 2011)  and  eMedicine Health (June 2011)

"This time, a new study suggests that kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have shown symptom relief after engaging in a five-week working memory-training program revolving around “game-like” software." - OSU Research News (Jan 2011)  and  Techland (Jan 2011)  and  GamePolitics (Jan 2011)

"Brain Workshop is a free open-source version of the dual n-back brain training exercise." -  Brain Workshop

Free Brain Games  -  Memory Improvement

"Playing a Memory Game to Improve Intelligence and Increase Your IQ Score?" -  Inhuman Experiment

"The efficacy of working memory training in improving crystallized intelligence" - Nature Proceedings (Sept 2009)

"Allow a laboratory mouse to run as much as it likes, and its brainpower improves. Force it to run harder than it otherwise might, and its thinking improves even more." - New York Times Blogs (Sept 2009)

Play, Exercise, Sleep and ADHD

"Exercise Is ADHD Medication. Physical movement improves mental focus, memory, and cognitive flexibility; new research shows just how critical it is to academic performance." - The Atlantic (Sept 2014)

"But what if some of those who've been diagnosed with ADHD are, in fact, suffering from another disorder altogether -- a sleep disorder? That's the provocative and important question posed in this commentary by a practicing psychiatrist with extensive experience treating patients with ADHD. Dr. Vatsal Thakkar, who is also a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center, makes a powerful argument for the need to consider sleep problems as a possible cause when evaluating patients for ADHD."  -  Huffington Post (May 2013)

Researchers at the University of Illinois used the great outdoors to treat ADD/ADHD.  The results were very promising.  But, perhaps part of the benefit from being outdoors was the fact that these children were also away from the television.

"Physical Activity May Strengthen Children's Ability To Pay Attention" - Science Daily (April 2009)

"Nature's Ritalin for the Marathon Mind: Nurturing Your ADHD Child With Exercise" by Stephen C. Putnam - Amazon

"They and their classmates are enrolled in Tools of the Mind, a relatively new program dedicated to improving the self-regulation abilities of young children, starting as early as age 3." - The New York Times (Sept 2009)

"This research has led him to propose a connection between rough-and-tumble play and ADHD. In fact, based on their findings that "abundant access to rough-and-tumble play" reduces the hyperplayfulness and impulsivity of rats with frontal lobe damage, he and his colleagues propose that a regimen of social rough-and-tumble play might be one way to help children with ADHD control impulsivity." - American Psychological Association (March 2002)

"Can PLAY Diminish ADHD and Facilitate the Construction of the Social Brain?" - PubMed (May 2007)