People with ADHD traits, such as 'restlessness,' may be better at hunting than those without

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which is characterized by difficulty sustaining attention and difficulty in orderly behavior, is considered a type of psychiatric disorder. However, a research team led by David Barrack, a neuroscientist at Peninsula University, has suggested that ADHD patients may perform better than non-ADHD patients when placed in an environment where they obtain food by hunting.

Attention deficits linked with proclivity to explore while foraging | Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

ADHD may have evolved to help foragers know when to cut their losses | New Scientist

Celebrating Neurodiversity: Research Showcases a New Perspective on The Evolutionary Advantage of ADHD | Humans

Compared to people without ADHD, people with ADHD tend to behave impulsively and have difficulty concentrating. The causes of ADHD have not yet been fully elucidated, but it is generally believed that ADHD tends to run in families.

To explore this, Barrack and his team had 506 participants play an online food-gathering game, in which players were instructed to hover over bushes and collect as many berries as they could in eight minutes.

Subjects were given the option to stay on the same bush for 8 minutes, or to move to a different bush and gamble on the possibility of collecting more berries. Note that the amount of berries decreases with each harvest from the same bush. However, there is a short lag time when moving to a new bush, so players must balance the benefit of potentially obtaining more berries by moving against the time lost by moving.

Before playing the game, the research team had each player fill out a questionnaire about whether they had symptoms of ADHD, such as 'Do you have trouble concentrating for long periods of time?' or 'Have you ever been told you're restless?'

The study found that participants with ADHD hovered over a particular bush for about four seconds less than participants without the condition, and ultimately collected an average of 602 berries compared to 521 for participants without the condition.

'Humans and other great apes are very intelligent foragers, but like many animals, they tend to stay in the same fields or hunting grounds and overhunt,' Barrack said. 'So taking actions like moving earlier could be beneficial in terms of reducing overhunting. And ADHD symptoms like impulsive behavior could be good for that.'

'Our findings suggest that ADHD traits may have arisen as a result of the scarcity of food and other resources faced by early hunter-gatherer communities,' Barrack said.

In today's world, where science and technology have developed, hunting and gathering has become rare, except for some ethnic groups. However, situations in which decision-making processes like the one used in this experiment occur still exist. Dr. Barack gave the example of studying for an exam, saying, 'Someone studying for an exam will try to get knowledge from one resource, but that resource may not help them understand the topic. In that case, someone with ADHD tendencies may be able to quickly switch to another resource and study more efficiently.'

'While it is difficult to determine precisely how ADHD-related behaviors were adaptive in past environments, our findings suggest clear differences in the foraging strategies employed by people with and without ADHD traits,' said University of Washington neuroscientist Dan Eisenberg.

in Science, Posted by log1r_ut