Behaviors associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as impulsivity and distractibility, are known to make many everyday modern tasks more challenging.

But they may provide benefits by helping people forage more efficiently — a key survival strategy used by hunter-gatherers and nomadic tribes, according to new research published Wednesday.

According to research conducted in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, BPeople with ADHD-like traits are less likely to live in the midst of depleting food resources and are more likely to explore other options instead—which may give them a foraging advantage in some areas.

The findings challenge some of the negative associations of ADHD, described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood.” And they seem supportive.”Evolutionary Inequality”. The theory of neurodivergence shows that such behaviors are only harmful in certain areas.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania used an algorithm-driven online berry-gathering game derived from the concept of optimal foraging. The decisions of 457 participants who were told to collect as many fruits as possible under time pressure were analyzed. Players choose between picking from the same bush – depleting berries and reducing their yield – and traveling to different bushes, which are rich in fruit but expensive for players’ time.

After the game, participants completed an online screening assessment of ADHD symptoms developed by the World Health Organization. People who self-reported ADHD-like symptoms moved more frequently between patches and generally collected more fruit, the researchers said.

“The increased eating ability of participants with ADHD-like behavior observed here suggests that the prevalence and persistence of ADHD may serve an adaptive function in some areas,” he said.

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The study had several limitations. The analysis compared 206 participants who reported additional ADHD characteristics, but there was no clinical assessment of the participants, and only 24 participants reported a previous ADHD diagnosis. It is less clear how well the virtual foraging job matches real-life foraging behavior than other occupations such as computer games, and study participants were recruited through an online sample rather than a random population sample.

Still, health experts say the study has important implications for how we understand and treat conditions like ADHD.

Annie Swanepoel, a child and adolescent psychiatrist who studies neurodiversity conditions from an evolutionary perspective and was not involved in the study, offered an evolutionary explanation for why ADHD-like behaviors are common.

“ADHD is not a disorder, it’s an advantage in certain areas where being willing to take risks and having a lot of energy is useful,” Swanepoel, England, said in an email Wednesday.

“People often mistakenly think that ‘survival of the fittest’ means survival of the fittest or fastest or the smartest. This is not the case – it is not about “fit” but about “goodness” between the individual and the environment. That’s why there are turtles and lizards and cheetahs and elephants.

For years, researchers have suggested that hyperstimulated modern environments may be particularly harmful to people with ADHD — especially when Internet use can exacerbate symptoms.

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Since the first national study on childhood ADHD was conducted in 1997, ADHD diagnoses among children have been on the rise in the United States. Today, the CDC assumes that. About 1 in 10 American children Conduct an investigation. According to CDC guidelines, they may have “difficulty paying attention, controlling impulse behaviors (acting without thinking about the consequences) or being hyperactive.”

For Swanepoel, these symptoms are negative only in the way we organize our society – creating an “evolutionary imbalance” between certain human characteristics and the needs of modern life.

“Our modern environments are WEIRD (Western, Industrial, Educated, Wealthy, Democratic) and bear no resemblance to the environment our ancestors lived in as hunter-gatherers for 95% of our history,” she wrote.

“The strengths of children with ADHD (hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention) are seen as a problem, because in our modern school environment where children are expected to sit still and listen – they may have been strengths in our grandparents’ environment.” she added. Swanepoel argues that children with ADHD symptoms are more likely to thrive in environments where they have higher activity levels and are more educated.

The study shows how important a person’s environment is to the manifestation of neurological disorders such as ADHD. Graham Music, a child and adolescent psychotherapist at London’s Tavistock Clinic, said: “There may be a mismatch between the environments we expect people to live in and the psychological characteristics they have.”

Rather than viewing ADHD as a problem that needs to be addressed in children, Music suggests asking a different question: “In what environment are they likely to thrive?”