Health & Wellbeing

Involuntary eye movement may provide definitive diagnosis of ADHD

Involuntary eye movement may provide definitive diagnosis of ADHD
An inability to suppress eye movement could be a reliable indicator of ADHD (Photo: Shutterstock)
An inability to suppress eye movement could be a reliable indicator of ADHD (Photo: Shutterstock)
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An inability to suppress eye movement could be a reliable indicator of ADHD (Photo: Shutterstock)
An inability to suppress eye movement could be a reliable indicator of ADHD (Photo: Shutterstock)

If a child who's simply very active is mistakenly diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), they can end up on pharmaceuticals such as Ritalin unnecessarily. The problem is, it can be quite difficult to determine if someone actually has ADHD, and misdiagnoses are common. Now, however, researchers from Tel Aviv University have announced that analyzing a patient's eye movements may be the key.

In an experiment conducted at the university, two groups of 22 adult subjects took an ADHD diagnostic computer test called the Test of Variables of Attention, or TOVA. The first group, all of whom had previously been diagnosed with ADHD, took the 22-minute test twice – once unmedicated, and once after taking their ADHD-suppressing methylphenidate.

The second group did not have ADHD, and served as a control.

It was discovered that the ADHD group was significantly and consistently less able to suppress eye movement in anticipation of visual stimuli during the first tests. Additionally, however, the researchers noted that once those subjects took their medication, their level of involuntary eye movement was reduced to that of the control group.

"This test is affordable and accessible, rendering it a practical and foolproof tool for medical professionals," said team member Dr. Moshe Fried. "With other tests, you can slip up, make 'mistakes' – intentionally or not. But our test cannot be fooled. Eye movements tracked in this test are involuntary, so they constitute a sound physiological marker of ADHD."

Larger trials are now being planned.

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Interesting. It could be useful in determining that the patient is getting the right dose of their drugs as well.
If you could suppress the involuntary eye movements with a lesser drug dose than they're getting now, you could cut their dosage without harmful consequences.
ADHD like some autism spectrum persons might just belong to the hypersensitive class. Those with a few more neural connections in places leading to better awareness, perception, or all round elevated senses. For these people the loud in your face world of today is just a little too much. these were the hunters and trackers of our previous generation, able to visualize and pace the movement of prey, and anticipate where to set the trap. medicating these people destroys their natural gift. One more thing we will loose in our quest to create a class of dull, servile, unhealthy, dependent people.
@ Nairda
As an adult with ADD, I can categorically say that that your idea of the disorder is romantic rubbish.
I can't think of how being unable to concentrate on a task for more than a few minutes could possibly help with hunting anything, and if I have elevated senses then I'd happily trade them in for the ability to finish a project either on-time or at all.
If this research holds up, it could not only help in establishing the correct individual doses of existing medication, but might also allow empirical testing of alternative med and non-med based treatments. Ritalin has a limited positive effect on me, however I don't like taking it regularly so I'd be fascinated to see this research expanded to other, possibly more holistic, treatments.
James Rausch
Also as an adult with ADD, and PTSD, I can fully understand how a person with the disorder of ADD would have heightened senses when able to focus on something that is passionate to them without interruption.
I have also seen the adverse effects of many mind altering medicines and how they can permanently decay who a person is. I refuse to take any form of medicine that plays with my brains chemical makeup.
These treatments may provide a temporary desired result that can very likely cause long term chemical changes that are not as such.
I am also an adult with ADD and Dyspraxia (aka DCD) and I agree.
As a young adult I experimented with Speed (a type of illegal amphetamine) and found it enabled me to concentrate on activities, such as playing chess (something I struggle with normally) and other tasks which I find difficult to do because I am very easily distracted, and find it extremely hard to concentrate. I can definately see the attraction of a well-targeted prescription amphetamine drug, but like James Rausch, I would worry about the long-term effects of such a drug. I want to be a 'better me' rather than a productive zombie.
And sorry, Naida, I agree with Billy600 about your assesment to a point. It should be noted, however, that those who have ADD or ADHD can turn their affliction into a positive- The Who drummer Keith Moon being a classic example. Although having a gift for drumming didn't stop his less social tendencies to blow up hotel toilets and throw television sets out of the window!
The test is "definitive"? That can only be true if it relates directly to the definition of [whatever]. The trouble is, for ADHD, the only definition seems to be is "kid is causing trouble for adult supervisors, said supervisors having access to drugs."