New Research Suggests That Characteristics Often Associated With ADHD May Have Been Beneficial For Early Hunter-Gatherers While Foraging For Food

Cavan - - illustrative purposes only

Approximately 8.7 million adults in the United States have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, according to the CDC. People with ADHD may struggle to pay attention, control impulsive behaviors, or be hyperactive.

However, new research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggests that characteristics often associated with ADHD might have been advantageous for early hunter-gatherers while foraging for food.

The study involved participants who played an online game simulating berry picking. The results showed that participants who identified themselves as having symptoms of ADHD left areas with fewer virtual fruits more swiftly and ended up gathering a greater number of berries in total.

These findings imply that ADHD-related behaviors might act as an adaptive mechanism in certain settings, potentially shedding light on why characteristics like distractibility and impulsivity are widespread.

“If these traits were truly negative, then you would think that over evolutionary time, they would be selected against,” said David Barack, the study’s lead author.

“Our findings are an initial data point, suggestive of advantages in certain choice contexts.”

According to Dan Eisenberg, a human evolutionary biology researcher who was not involved in this study, identifying the precise ways in which behaviors linked to ADHD could have been beneficial in historical contexts is challenging.

Eisenberg claims that these findings are intriguing because they show clear variations in foraging tactics between individuals both with and without ADHD.

ADHD is usually identified during childhood and often persists into adulthood. Characteristics of ADHD may encompass difficulty with concentration, excessive fidgeting, impulsive actions, and engaging in risky behavior. The study notes that ADHD affects 11% of children and 4% of adults.

Cavan – – illustrative purposes only

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