Is ADHD sometimes beneficial?
A June 10, 2008 study
found that a certain gene that is linked to ADHD was beneficial for nomads living in Kenya, but harmful among settled populations of Kenya.Nomads with the gene were better nourished than others, but settled people with the same gene were less well nourished.
The gene in question, called DRD4 codes for a brain protein that is linked with the normal reward pathways in the brain. According to the author:
"This gene is likely to be involved in impulsivity, reward anticipation and addiction".
One version of the DRD4 gene, is linked to food craving and impulsivity and addiction in settled populations.
The authors speculated:
"The [gene] has been linked to greater food and drug cravings, novelty-seeking, and ADHD symptoms. It is possible that in the nomadic setting, a boy with this [gene] might be able to more effectively defend livestock against radars or locate food and water sources, but that the same tendencies might not be as beneficial in settled pursuits such as focusing in school, farming or selling goods."
This suggests several follow-up experiments to me:
1) Might there be ways that this gene is beneficial in modern society? For instance, might kids with this gene do better in sports or videogames?
Develop a hypothesis and do an experiment to test it.
Return from ADHD to Science Current Events