ADDitude Magazine - For People Who Have AD/HD
By Bob Seay
AD/HD May Not Have Always Been a Disorder; Research indicates that traits may have contributed to the survival of early humans
Thom Hartmann took a lot of flak when he proposed an evolutionary model of AD/HD. Now, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have concluded that his controversial theory may well be correct. Researchers now believe that a gene variation associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) first appeared 10,000 to 40,000 years ago and was probably a significant advantage to the early humans who had it.
In an article published in the January 8, 2002 edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Dr. Robert K. Moyzis and other researchers speculate that early humans with AD/HD traits such as novelty-seeking, increased aggression and perseverance were more likely to survive. These traits have been associated with the DRD4 7R gene. Up to half of AD/HD individuals have this same variant gene, according to Moyzis, one of the authors of the study. More information about the article is available online.
Today, many of these same traits are deemed inappropriate in the typical classroom setting and hence diagnosed as AD/HD. Like their early ancestors, today's AD/HD children are more active and often more aggressive than their peers. These children are always looking for something new to capture their attention. Once they find something interesting, such as a video game, they "lock on" and focus intently on the task. They are often unable to shift their focus to something new.
Researchers speculate that a "survival of the fittest" scenario may have contributed to an ever-increasing number of people with AD/HD. For example, being more aggressive, inquisitive, and willing to take risks meant a higher probability for mate selection and perhaps multiple sex partners, spreading the gene – and its associated AD/HD behaviors – through the population. Primitive hunters with this gene would have been more successful and would have been better providers for their families and tribes. These and other factors may explain why the gene is so prevalent now.