It's the Inattention, Stupid

It's the Inattention, Stupid
We would be better off if the ADHD research community would realize that "It's the Inattention. Stupid" and face the fact that inattention is disabling.  While more researchers in the ADHD community are coming to understand that ADHD presents in lots of different ways, at the end of the day, it's the inattention that wreaks the most havoc on people's lives and studies on the most effective treatments for inattention are lacking.

A lot of effort has gone into thinking about how ADHD is classified and some researchers have proposed that ADHD symptoms should not be measured in subtypes at all but rather by a definition of what most disables them. When ADHD is measured in this way, researchers agree that it’s the inattentiveness that is the hallmark feature of ADHD..

I could imagine that you could come up with a disability score where every person that is diagnosed has a score that represents how disabling their symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, impulsive behavior and sluggishness are. If you scored ADHD this way, I would bet that the most disabling symptom for most people with ADHD, in terms of overall impairment in life and school, would be inattention.

To date, researchers have concentrated their efforts on the treatment of hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Dr. Xiaobo Li, Mary Kelly and Ariane Sroubek, at the Albert Einstein Medical School report in the latest Neuroscience Bulletin, that the impairment to ADHD patients caused by inattentiveness is often overlooked and that most ADHD studies have focused of impulsivity/hyperactivity and problems with executive function.

The likely reason for this is that these symptoms are, "in your face" dangerous while the perils of inattention are more sneakily destructive and less obvious. I believe that, as more attention is given to adult ADHD, a disorder where inattention prevails, more research dollars will be poured into the study of this symptom and into the study of how to best treat this disabling problem. We can only hope...

The Dr. Xiaobo Li, Mary Kelly and Ariane Sroubek report is below.

Neuroscience Bulletin. 2013 Jan 8.
Inattentiveness in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Sroubek A, Kelly M, Li X.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder with a long-term impact on functioning, productivity and quality of life of patients. This impact is largely due to the symptoms of inattentiveness. However, despite its impairing role in the lives of ADHD patients, inattentiveness has been studied relatively less frequently than have symptoms of impulsivity/hyperactivity and problems with executive function. This review therefore seeks to integrate the neuropsychological theories and current findings in the research fields of neuropsychology, neurophysiology, and neuroimaging, in an attempt to gain a more complete understanding of the role that inattentiveness plays in ADHD, as well as to suggest directions for future studies. The need for a more comprehensive understanding of inattentiveness and ADHD, which integrates findings from each of the three disciplines mentioned above, is emphasized.

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