Music and Inattentive ADD

Music and Inattentive ADD
Recently I was asked by a reader if there was  a connection between music and performance in kids with inattentive ADHD.  This reader was a parent who had found that her ten year old daughter could do her math problems faster and with more accuracy if a certain type of music was playing.  It seemed that music helped her attention.

As it turns out there is a correlation between math and music.  Many composers have been found to have amazingly advanced mathematical minds and neurobiologist have found that music can stimulate the part of the brain that is used for memory and higher brain functions such as reasoning and spatial problem solving.

It may be that music also helps kids with ADHD do better in school.  In one study (see below) boys with ADHD were tested on classroom performance with music on and off.  Some, but not all of the boys, benefitted from having music playing while studying.  

The differences in performance and the reason why some boys benefited from the music and others did not might be related to genetics.  The second study listed below seems to point to the fact that music can act beneficially because it acts on some of the genetically determined pathways that are amiss in ADHD.  

Not all music helps.  It seems as though the tempo of the music makes a difference.  Rock, Rap and some types of classical music seem to help more than say folk music.  In my family, my son studies wearing ear phones and he listens to classical type music.  He really feels that it helps him stay focused.

As I mentioned, it may not help everyone with Inattentive ADD but what the heck, if you have not tried working while listening to music, give it a try!

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2011 Nov;39(8):1085-98. doi: 10.1007/s10802-011-9529-z.
Music and video as distractors for boys with ADHD in the classroom: comparison with controls, individual differences, and medication effects.

This study examined the effects of music and video on the classroom behavior and performance of boys with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and examined the effects of 0.3 mg/kg methylphenidate (MPH or Ritalin). In one study, 41 boys with ADHD and 26 controls worked in the presence of no distractor, music, or video. Video produced significant distraction, particularly for the boys with ADHD, and MPH improved the performance of boys with ADHD across distractor conditions.There were individual differences in response to the music such that some boys were adversely affected and others benefited relative to no-distractor.In a second study, music and MPH were assessed in an additional 86 boys with ADHD to examine further the music results. In the presence or absence of music, MPH improved performance relative to placebo. Similar individual differences were found as in Experiment 1.

Med Hypotheses. 2010 Mar;74(3):513-20. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.10.008. Epub 2009 Nov 14.
Do dopaminergic gene polymorphisms affect mesolimbic reward activation of music listening response? Therapeutic impact on Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS).

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