*Kids Today Are Not Inattentive*
Published on Neuroskeptic|
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There’s no evidence that children today are less attentive or more
distractible than kids in the past, according to research just published by
a team of Pennsylvania psychologists: *Long-Term Temporal Stability of
Measured Inattention and Impulsivity in Typical and Referred
Children*
.

The study gave a large sample of kids the “Gordon Diagnostic
System”GDS test of
sustained concentration ability. This dates to the 80s and it
consists of a box, with a button, and a display with three digits. There
are three different tasks but the main one is a sustained attention test.
The goal is to watch a series of numbers and quickly press the button
whenever a “1” is followed by a “9”. Easy… but it takes concentration to
do well.

Over the period of 2000-2006, the researchers gave the GDS to 445 healthy
American kids, not diagnosed with any learning or behavioural disorder and
not taking medication. They compared their scores to the standardized norms
– which were based on a sample of American kids back in 1983.

The results showed that today’s kids scored pretty much the same, on
average, as the 1983 kids. The average age-standardized scores were
extremely close to the 1983 means, across the board. Children diagnosed
with ADHD, as expected, scored much worse. Oddly, kids with an Autism
Spectrum Disorder did just as badly as the ADHD ones.

One of the researchers on this study is none other than Michael Gordon, who
invented the GDS and, one assumes, makes money selling it. (Each GDS
kitcosts $1595, so
*someone *is making a killing here.) So perhaps we should take this paper
with a pinch of salt, because it’s kind of an advertisement for the
reliability of the GDS.

Still, these results seem pretty solid. That’s good news for American
children… but bad news for people like Professor Susan
Greenfield,
who thinks that the internet and videogames are causing an epidemic of
ADHD,
and all kinds of other problems.

These data suggest rather that, while ADHD diagnoses are certainly
rising,
children as a whole are not getting less attentive, suggesting that the
rise of ADHD is more of a cultural shift.

[image: ResearchBlogging.org] >Mayes, S.,
Gordon, M., Calhoun, S., and Bixler, E. (2012). Long-Term Temporal
Stability of Measured Inattention and Impulsivity in Typical and Referred
Children Journal of Attention Disorders DOI:
10.1177/1087054712448961

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