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Beating Their Chests: University Students With ADHD Demonstrate Greater Attentional Abilities on an Inattentional Blindness Paradigm

  • Faculty of Health Sciences Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Beer Sheva

Abstract and Figures

Objective: Adults diagnosed with attentional deficit disorder (ADHD) are easily distracted in many tasks. Yet ADHD performance on inattentional blindness (IB) tasks has not been examined. Such investigation may aid in discriminating between 3 ADHD models: the neurological model, the perceptual load theory, and the "hunter versus farmer" hypothesis. Method: Distractibility was assessed in ADHD and non-ADHD college students using the MOXO task that involves detection of a single attended stimulus that repeatedly appears in the same place and in the well-known IB "gorilla" video which involves tracking of a stimulus moving at a fast pace in a dynamic, complex manner. Results: ADHD college students showed increased distractibility in the MOXO task. By contrast, they performed better than controls in the attended channel of the IB task, while they were also better at noticing the unattended stimuli and thus exhibiting little-to-no inattentional blindness. Conclusions: As no attentional tradeoffs were evident in the IB task, it appears that the results are most consistent with the "hunter versus farmer" hypothesis, which postulates that ADHD individuals have an alternative cognitive style which is less equipped to deal with detection of repeated stimuli while comprising advantages in the tracking of stimuli moving in a fast dynamic manner. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
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Beating Their Chests: University Students With ADHD
Demonstrate Greater Attentional Abilities on an
Inattentional Blindness Paradigm
Ephraim S. Grossman, Yaakov S. G. Hoffman, Itai Berger, and Ari Z. Zivotofsky
Online First Publication, March 2, 2015.
Grossman, E. S., Hoffman, Y. S. G., Berger, I., & Zivotofsky, A. Z. (2015, March 2). Beating
Their Chests: University Students With ADHD Demonstrate Greater Attentional Abilities on
an Inattentional Blindness Paradigm. Neuropsychology. Advance online publication.
Beating Their Chests: University Students With ADHD Demonstrate
Greater Attentional Abilities on an Inattentional Blindness Paradigm
Ephraim S. Grossman and Yaakov S. G. Hoffman
Bar Ilan University Itai Berger
Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel
Ari Z. Zivotofsky
Bar-Ilan University
Objective: Adults diagnosed with attentional deficit disorder (ADHD) are easily distracted in many tasks.
Yet ADHD performance on inattentional blindness (IB) tasks has not been examined. Such investigation
may aid in discriminating between 3 ADHD models: the neurological model, the perceptual load theory,
and the “hunter versus farmer” hypothesis. Method: Distractibility was assessed in ADHD and non-
ADHD college students using the MOXO task that involves detection of a single attended stimulus that
repeatedly appears in the same place and in the well-known IB “gorilla” video which involves tracking
of a stimulus moving at a fast pace in a dynamic, complex manner. Results: ADHD college students
showed increased distractibility in the MOXO task. By contrast, they performed better than controls in
the attended channel of the IB task, while they were also better at noticing the unattended stimuli and thus
exhibiting little-to-no inattentional blindness. Conclusions: As no attentional tradeoffs were evident in
the IB task, it appears that the results are most consistent with the “hunter versus farmer” hypothesis,
which postulates that ADHD individuals have an alternative cognitive style which is less equipped to deal
with detection of repeated stimuli while comprising advantages in the tracking of stimuli moving in a fast
dynamic manner.
Keywords: attentional deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, attention, inattentional blindness, hunter
versus farmer hypothesis, distractors
A recent, well-publicized court case concerned a policeman
(Officer Conley) who, while focusing on chasing a suspect, was
“blind” to the beating of a colleague (Michael Cox) who he ran
right past. He was subsequently convicted of perjury and obstruc-
tion of justice. In an empirical reenactment of the chase, 40% of
subjects similarly failed to detect the staged “beating” (Chabris,
Weinberger, Fontaine, & Simons, 2011).
While the officer’s behavior horrified laymen, cognitive psy-
chologists have known about this phenomenon of inattentional
blindness (IB) for years. To the best of our knowledge, IB tasks
have not been examined with adults diagnosed with attention
deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). In addition to real world
implications, assessing IB in subjects with ADHD may help to
distinguish between three different theoretical accounts.
IB was defined by Mack and Rock (1998) as a failure to notice
salient and foveated stimuli due to attention being engaged else-
where. IB is a normal phenomenon occurring in people without
cognitive deficits of any kind (Neisser, 1967). Perhaps the most
famous IB task is the “gorilla” video (e.g., Simons & Chabris,
1999; Simons, 2010a), in which participants monitor ball passing
in one of two teams, and approximately 50% of them were blind
to a foveated “gorilla” walking across the court, standing still and
beating its chest, and exiting (Simons & Chabris, 1999; Memmert,
The recent DSM-V (APA, 2013) treats ADHD as a single
diagnostic category with different subtypes. ADHD diagnosis
requires a persistent pattern of inattention symptoms (e.g.,
easily distracted, difficulty sustaining attention, forgetful)
and/or hyperactive/impulsive symptoms (e.g., “on the go,” in-
terrupts, fidgets/squirms in seat). ADHD prevalence for chil-
dren tends to be 4–18%; for example, it is 10% in the United
States. (Faraone, Sergeant, Gillberg, & Beiderman, 2003) and
12% in Israel (Cohen et al., 2013). Recent reports suggest that
ADHD symptoms (Das, Cherbuin, Easteal, & Anstey, 2014)
and prevalence (e.g., 5% in the United States, Kessler et al.,
2006) may decrease with age. Nonetheless, difficulties in adult
ADHD individuals may be severe and are typically manifest in
academia, employment, organization, and time management
(Kessler et al., 2006). ADHD adults may also experience other
difficulties such as anxiety and depression (Michielsen et al.,
Several studies reported that ADHD individuals are more dis-
tracted than non-AHDH individuals. For example, in response to
Ephraim S. Grossman and Yaakov S. G. Hoffman, Interdisciplinary
Department of Social Sciences, Bar Ilan University; Itai Berger, Neurope-
diatrics Unit, Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel; Ari Z. Zivotof-
sky, The Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain
Research Center, Bar-Ilan University.
Ephraim S. Grossman and Yaakov S. G. Hoffman contributed equally.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ari Z.
Zivotofsky, Gonda Brain Research Center, Bar Ilan University, Max and Anna
Web Street, Ramat Gan, Israel 5290002. E-mail:
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Neuropsychology © 2015 American Psychological Association
2015, Vol. 29, No. 2, 000 0894-4105/15/$12.00
competition tasks, target processing is better when flanked by
compatible versus incompatible distractors (Brodeur, & Pond,
2001; Jonkman et al., 2000). Response time was slower even when
accuracy remained unaffected, (e.g., Geurts, Luman, & van Meel,
2008). However, in several other studies, ADHD individuals were
comparable to non-ADHD controls (e.g., Huang-Pollock, Carr, &
Nigg, 2002). Suggested approaches to this apparent discrepancy
have been to propose that ADHD individuals are impaired relative
to non-ADHD only with meaningful (Forster, Robertson, Jennings,
Asherson, & Lavie, 2014) or emotional distractors (López-Martín,
Albert, Fernández-Jaén, Carretié, 2013).
Although ADHD symptomatology is widely recognized, the
underlying theoretical interpretation is disputed. One may discern
three theoretical approaches. First, the neurological model concep-
tualizes ADHD as named, a disorder/deficit, whereby the inatten-
tion, impulsivity/hyperactivity or both, are viewed as a global
distractibility impairment (DSM-V, 2013). This model is based on
the hypothesis that altered dopaminergic function plays a pivotal
role by failing to modulate nondopaminergic (primarily glutamate
and gamma amino-butyric acid) signal transmissions appropri-
ately. Hypo-functioning mesolimbic, mesocortical, and nigrostri-
atal dopamine branches together can give rise to delay aversion,
development of hyperactivity, impulsivity, deficient sustained at-
tention, increased behavioral variability, and disinhibition
(Sagvolden, Johansen, Aase, & Russell, 2005). This model pre-
dicts global distractibility on all tasks for ADHD subjects relative
to controls. Accordingly, cognitive–behavioral treatments (CBT;
Knouse & Safren, 2010) and/or pharmacological agents (Wilens,
Morrison, & Prince, 2011) are utilized in the “treatment” of the
The second model emerges from the perceptual Load Theory
(e.g., Lavie, 2010). Load Theory states that focused selective
attention (on task-relevant rather than irrelevant information) de-
pends not only on goal-directed cognitive control but also on the
perceptual load (amount of potentially task-relevant information)
of a given task. While full top-down cognitive control ability is
necessary for the active maintenance of the current task priorities
(including prioritization of relevant over irrelevant stimuli), this
alone is insufficient to achieve exclusive focus on relevant items.
In tasks of low perceptual load, spare capacity left over from the
processing of task-relevant attended stimuli will “spill over” re-
sulting in the perception of distractor stimuli thereby interfering
with the attended stream. It is only when the perceptual load of the
task is high enough to exhaust perceptual capacity that distractor
perception—and their intrusions into awareness—will be pre-
vented (Remington, Cartwright-Finch, & Lavie, 2014). It was
recently demonstrated that ADHD individuals were distracted by
flankers only when the attended target had a low perceptual load
but not under a high load, where their performance was no differ-
ent from non-ADHD controls (Forster et al., 2014). As opposed to
the neurological model, which views the entire dopamine reward
network as faulty, the perceptual load model focuses mainly on
distractibility and limits it to cognitive conditions, that is, a disor-
der manifest only when distractibility is high (low load). However
when all resources are taxed, similar to controls, individuals with
ADHD are not distracted.
The third ADHD model is Hartmann’s sociological/anthropo-
logical theory, wherein ADHD is described as a hunter in a
farming society (Hartmann & Ratey, 1995). This theory views
ADHD individuals as expert “hunters” who are prepared for action
and are able to track complex and moving targets while taking in
the entire environment (Hartmann, 1993). In contrast, this view
categorizes the modern world as a “farmer’s” society, wherein
advanced planning is cherished and focusing on one thing at a time
is rewarded. From a young age, children in modern society are
instructed to block out the multitude stimuli in a classroom and
focus only on the teacher. By contrast, in a hunter-gatherer society
when, for example, one chases after a rabbit for lunch, it is
advantageous to also notice that one is being stalked by a hungry
cheetah. As suggested by Hartmann, the ability to notice a non-
target stimulus that may lead to distraction might be a desired trait
to ensure survival of the hunter.
Accordingly, the very attributes that render ADHD individuals
good “hunters” (e.g., constant monitoring of environment, flexi-
bility, being able to throw themselves into a chase on a moment’s
notice), are less compatible with modern, daily demands of the
“farmer society.” Support for this theory has been observed in
genetic evidence (Arcos-Burgos & Acosta, 2007). This model
predicts impaired ADHD performance only on nonhunter tasks,
where participants focus on a repeated stimulus as opposed to the
tracking of a fast-moving stimulus, where ADHD individuals
should be superior to non-ADHD.
All three models thus agree that ADHD individuals should
perform significantly worse on farmer-type tasks where partici-
pants have to focus on a single, stationary, low-load target in the
presence of a distractor. Indeed, it is just such tasks, such as the
variety of continuous performance tasks (CPT), which are typi-
cally used to diagnose ADHD.
However, these models critically differ, with regard to the IB
“gorilla” task. The classic model treats ADHD as a global impair-
ment and if ADHD adults do notice the “gorilla,” it would likely
be at the expense of counting passes. Due to the high perceptual
load involved, the perceptual load theory would predict that
ADHD and non-ADHD adults perform similarly. According to the
“hunter” hypothesis, because this IB task is a “hunter” task,
ADHD individuals should be better at both counting passes and at
noticing the unattended distractors; for example, “gorilla.” Thus, in
addition to the potential real-world ramifications, examining IB in
ADHD might also serve to discern between the aforementioned
three models.
Fourteen ADHD subjects (age: 24.07 1.9) and 18 matched
controls (age: 23.38 2.45), participated in this study in exchange
for course credit. Participants were first-year Bar Ilan Univer-
sity students from social science programs who were recruited
by signs posted in the social science buildings. All subjects had
normal or corrected-to-normal vision. Exclusion criteria for
both the ADHD and non-ADHD groups included diagnosed
learning disabilities, history of neurological disorders, head
injuries, diagnosed neurological impairment, and psychiatric
disorders or medication (other than prescribed ADHD medica-
tion). In addition, individuals who had previously seen the IB
video were excluded. All non-ADHD students reported no
history of ADHD. The study was approved by the Institutional
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Review Board (IRB) at Bar Ilan University’s Interdisciplinary
Department of Social Sciences and all participants provided
written informed consent.
For inclusion in the ADHD group, subjects had to bring (a) a
diagnostic report that included a DSM–IV-based questionnaire;
(b) a neurological assessment including a CPT test (e.g.,
TOVAH test) and; (c) a prescription in their name for methyl-
phenidate. Furthermore, all ADHD subjects were required to
show that their diagnosis was recognized by the university’s
testing center entitling them to academic assistance (e.g., addi-
tional exam time). The university’s diagnostic procedure is
more conservative than the ADHD testing administered to the
general public in Israel such that approximately a fifth of the
ADHD students who apply to the program are rejected. ADHD
participants were tested after 24 hr without medication.
Stimuli and Procedure
Two tasks were administered to each subject: a low percep-
tual load CPT task and a high perceptual load IB task. For the
IB task, participants were seated in a quiet room, 75 cm from a
computer monitor on which they viewed a video (Simons,
2010a; Simons, 2010b; see Figure 1). Distance and head sta-
bility were maintained using a chinrest and forehead bar. The
video showed two teams (three black-clothed and three white-
clothed) who were passing a basketball among their own team
while moving around each other in a dynamic, fast-paced
manner. We employed the “difficult version” (Simons &
Chabris, 1999) wherein subjects were instructed to count the
number of bounce passes, aerial passes, and total passes of the
white-team while ignoring the black team. Three events of note
occurred during the course of the video: (a) A “gorilla” entered
the circle of players, beat his chest, and walked out, (b) One of
the black-clothed players exited the scene, (c) The color of a
background curtain changed from red to orange. After watching
the movie, the subjects were questioned about both attended and
unattended channels. Questions pertaining to the attended
stream related to passes of the white team such as total number
of passes, aerial passes, and number of bounce passes. Ques-
tions pertaining to the nonattended stream were: (a) “Did you
notice anything unusual”? (b) “Did you see anything aside from
the players”? (c) “Did you notice the “gorilla” walking across
the display”? (d) “Did anything happen to the curtain”? (e) “Did
you notice a player exiting the court”? We focused primarily on
responses to the gorilla, player exiting, and the curtain color
change, where “no” responses were taken to indicate “blind-
ness.” Importantly, responses were consistent, such that every-
one (both ADHD and controls) who noticed something unusual
noticed the gorilla and vice versa.
All subjects also performed the low perceptual load MOXO-
CPT (Berger & Cassuto, 2014), as the (“farmer”) comparison task.
The MOXO-CPT is an 18.2-min test that includes visual and
auditory distractor stimuli. It is composed of eight blocks (136.5 s,
59 trials each). In each trial, a card was presented as an attended
target, and participants’ task was to respond only to a certain card.
Target was presented for 500, 1,000, or 4,000 ms, followed by a
“void” period of the same duration. The stimulus remained on the
screen for the full duration irrespective of response.
Target and nontarget stimuli were presented sequentially in the
middle of a computer screen and participants were instructed to
respond as quickly as possible to target stimuli by pressing the
space bar once, and only once. Participants were also instructed
not to respond to any other stimuli except for the exact target card,
and not to press any other key but the space bar. Three types of
distractions were presented: (a) visual distractors (e.g., animated
Figure 1. Selected still frames from video (Simons, 2010b). (A) The six players from the two teams prior to
commencing passing, (B) Both teams are moving around and passing their own ball to their team members. (C)
“Gorilla” enters from right. (D) Player from black team eases backward off the court while the “gorilla” walks
to the center. (E) “Gorilla” stands in center and beats chest. Note change in curtain color. (F) “Gorilla” walks
off. (G) Team members finish and disperse. See the online article for the color version of this figure.
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barking dog); (b) auditory distractors (e.g., barking sound); and (c)
a combination of both (e.g., animated barking dog with the
sound of barking). Visual distractors appeared at one of four
spatial locations on the sides of the screen: down, up, left or
right. Overall, eight different distractors were included, each of
them could appear as pure visual, pure auditory or as a combi-
nation of them.
The different MOXO-CPT blocks were characterized by differ-
ent distractor levels. Blocks 1 and 8 did not include any distractors,
Blocks 2 and 3 contained pure visual distractors, Blocks 4 and 5
contained pure auditory distractors and Blocks 6 and 7 contained
a combination of visual and auditory distractors. Distractor onset
was not synchronized with target onset and could be presented
during the void period as well. Distractors were presented for 8 s,
with a fixed interval of 0.5 s between two distractors.
The MOXO-CPT assesses attention along four criteria, (a) At-
tention: number of correct responses to target not bound by any
time frame. (b) Timing: number of correct responses only while
target is on screen. (c) Impulsivity: number of impulsive commis-
sions performed in initial response to a nontarget stimulus. (d)
Hyperactivity, remaining commission errors not counted as impul-
sivity, for example, multiple spacebar presses (as opposed to
initial) or random key pressing.
Inattentional Blindness Task
ADHD adults detected the unattended stimuli, that is, the
entering “gorilla” (13/14 vs. 4/18,
15.77, p.001) and
the exiting player (10/14 vs. 1/18,
15.14, p.001)
significantly more often than controls. Not only was there no
attentional trade off, ADHD students were actually better in
their overall pass counting relative to non-ADHD students,
t(29) 1.76, p.05, d.61, one-tailed (Figure 2a). Although
there was no difference between groups in aerial pass counting,
ADHD subjects were also significantly better in counting the
six bounce passes, t(29) 2.26, p.05, d.79. In fact the
count of bounce passes by the ADHD group was no different
than the correct answer (t1), however non-ADHD controls
provided a significantly lower count of bounce passes than the
accurate number, t(17) 3.35, p.01, d.83. The color
changing of the background curtain was not detected by any
Subjects with ADHD performed at lower levels than controls
on all four MOXO dimensions. These differences between
ADHD and non-ADHD groups were significant in Attention
(all hits), t(29) 2.56, p.05, d.91, and Hyperactivity
(commission errors), t(29) 2.51, p.05, d.89. The
differences in Impulsivity (impulsive commissions in initial
response) and Timing (hits during target display) were not
significant, see Figure 2b. One non-ADHD participant was
removed due to outlier performance; this removal did not
change results.
The IB results demonstrate that ADHD adults can perform a
demanding task while simultaneously processing unattended stim-
uli at no apparent cost. This advantage did not result from an
attentional trade-off, as the ADHD subjects were significantly
better than controls in two of the three attended tasks (total passes,
bounce passes). These results hint at the existence of attentional
advantages for those with ADHD.
These results can help disambiguate the three theoretical accounts.
Although impaired MOXO performance was predicted by all three
ADHD models, performance on the IB task can differentiate between
the aforementioned models. The high percentage of ADHD subjects
noticing both the “gorilla” and the exiting player could have been
predicted both by the neurological and the “hunter” models. However,
taken together with the lack of attentional trade-off, the overall result
pattern seems compatible only with Hartmann’s sociological-
anthropological theory. As “hunters,” ADHD adults have attentional
advantages, in that they can simultaneously perceive information from
attended channels while also doing so from unattended channels.
While a central difference between the MOXO and the IB tasks is
tracking motion, a hallmark of “hunter” tasks (Hartmann, 1993), there
are several additional differences. First, the cognitive load seems
higher in the IB task where the simultaneous tracking of both aerial
and bounce passes is required, as opposed to the MOXO where a
single target is presented (see also Cartwright-Finch & Lavie, 2007
Figure 2. IB and MOXO results for ADHD and Control groups. Panel A. Average (SE) results on all four
MOXO dimensions for ADHD and Control subjects. Panel B. Average (SE) performance of both ADHD and
controls on the attended task of monitoring Total passes (16), Aerial passes (10) and Bounce passes (6).
Significance at .05
two tail. See the online article for the color version of this figure.
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for a similar claim). Differing from perceptual load that stems from
perceptual properties of the stimulus, cognitive load relates to the
taxing of working memory. The more taxed it is, the less resources
remain for processing other cognitive tasks (Baddeley, 1974). The
current IB task also requires constant updating to accommodate new
input (Morris & Jones, 1990). Updating one of the two representations
of aerial and bounce passes, that change independently, is more taxing
than updating a single representation (Kessler & Meiran, 2006) and
definitely more taxing than the MOXO, which does not even require
updating at all.
A second difference is that in the MOXO task participants’ dis-
traction was inferred implicitly by interference to the attended stream,
as opposed to the IB task where noticing the “gorilla” was an explicit,
conscious response. Implicit paradigms (e.g., MOXO) focus on how
well irrelevant albeit expected stimuli can be ignored whereas explicit
paradigms focus on the probability of noticing an unexpected but
potentially relevant stimulus (Simons, 2000). Implicit attentional cap-
ture may exist in the absence of explicit attentional capture (Moore &
Egeth, 1997). Perhaps ADHD individuals are better than controls in
monitoring an environment for unexpected albeit potentially relevant
information typical of explicit attentional capture while being less
attuned to irrelevant distractors information.
A third difference between the MOXO and the current IB task
relates to how “ecological” the stimuli were. In the MOXO, the
target stimulus was an animated picture of a card while in the IB
task the attended channel is a real world situation, that is, a video
of a real ball being passed by real people. Given that previous
research indicates differences on ADHD performance between
ecological and nonecological stimuli (see Forster et al., 2014), this
issue may be important.
These differences of cognitive load, explicit versus implicit, and
ecological level, may all be compatible with the “hunter” hypoth-
esis. A “hunter” task may involve a higher cognitive load such as
keeping two objects in working memory, explicitly noticing a
relevant albeit unexpected stimulus which was not initially at-
tended, and ecological stimuli. To better ascertain the role of each
factor, future studies could compare between explicit IB tasks that
vary in terms of motion, cognitive load of the primary task, and
updating. This should be examined using both more and less
ecological stimuli.
There may be alternative explanation for the current results. It has
recently been shown that ADHD performance may be task dependent
(Bioulac et al., 2014), for example, when a task is not framed as a test
but as a game, ADHD performance is enhanced. The current IB task
may be reminiscent more of a game than a test while the MOXO most
probably reminds the ADHD participants of diagnostic tests that they
have encountered.
The current results indicate that ADHD may not be a global
impairment, rather it may be more accurate to describe it as an
alternative cognitive style comprising disadvantages, which may be
manifest in “farming” tasks (e.g., MOXO), along with advantages
which might be manifest in “hunting” tasks. Efficacy of therapeutic
interventions, such as CBT (e.g., Knouse & Safren, 2010) or phar-
macological agents (Wilens et al., 2011) in decreasing distractibility is
standardly assessed to the extent by which ADHD function converts
to “normal.” While such treatments are valuable as they enhance
functioning, it should be noted that if ADHD is not a global deficit it
may not require a global intervention. Instead, ADHD performance
could be facilitated in situations where they might encounter difficul-
ties along with finding ways to express their strengths.
The current results are also important in terms of the potential daily
implications of IB. For example, in a recent study (Drew, Võ, &
Wolfe, 2013) radiologists were given CT lung scans for nodules
where a picture of a dancing “gorilla” 48 times larger than an average
nodule appeared. Over 80% of these expert detectors failed to notice
the “gorilla.” As detecting a stationary nodule may not comprise a
“hunter” task, we cannot speculate how ADHD radiologist would
fare. Yet based on the current results, one may speculate that an
ADHD policeman chasing after a fugitive would likely notice her
fellow policewoman being beaten.
There are several potential limitations to our study. This is a single
study that employed only two tasks that may differ along several
dimensions. Thus, future research is required both for replication and
to precisely determine the role of each dimension. Furthermore, the
ADHD diagnosis of our subjects relied on historical data. The lack of
diagnosis testing as part of the study is relevant both to the ADHD
group, where independent nonhistorical verification of ADHD was
lacking, and the control group, who might have possibly included
some ADHD subjects who were never diagnosed. Although this
concern is mitigated somewhat by the apparent confirmation from the
MOXO task that distinguished between the groups, administration of
the MOXO was not for diagnostic purposes and thus it might have
been preferable to administer an independent diagnostic measure.
Similarly, exclusion of participants with self-reported disorders such
as learning disabilities or psychiatric disorders may likewise be a
limitation for the same reason, namely that the sample might have
included undiagnosed participants. Furthermore, given the comorbid-
ity between learning disabilities and ADHD as well as psychiatric
disorders and ADHD, not including these participants may limit the
generalizability of the results. We also note that while our sample size
was sufficient to show significant results, a larger study is certainly
warranted. We also acknowledge that our evaluation of “hunter”
versus “farming” tasks might be confounded with other factors. Fi-
nally, the issue of ADHD is more salient in children, thus it is
important to evaluate the relative degree of IB in both ADHD and
non-ADHD children across various ages.
In conclusion, while ADHD participants were more distracted on
the MOXO CPT task than non-ADHD, they “saw the unseen” and
demonstrated little intentional blindness. Critically, their noticing of
the unattended “gorilla” did not distract them from processing the
attended stream, in which they were also significantly better. The full
result pattern is compatible with the “hunter versus farmer” hypoth-
esis. These results stimulate many questions both about the nature of
ADHD and their attentional capabilities.
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Received June 24, 2014
Revision received November 19, 2014
Accepted December 21, 2014
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... The MOXO-d-CPT is a standardized CPT which has attracted growing clinical and research attention. Studies were performed in both ADHD (Ben-Sheetrit et al., 2017;Berger, Slobodin, & Cassuto, 2017;Grossman, Hoffman, Berger, & Zivotofsky, 2015) and other neuropsychiatric disorders (Cohen-Cymberknoh et al., 2018;Cohen, Halevy, Aharon, & Shuper, 2018). It utilizes an online platform, does not require special equipment, and has high ecological validity. ...
... By providing four performance indices (i.e., attention, timeliness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity), the examiner is provided with information that taps the major cognitive functions associated with ADHD (mainly, focused/sustained attention and response inhibition). Hence, the MOXO-d-CPT improves the ability to detect ADHD and aids clinical decision in young (Berger & Cassuto, 2014;Berger et al., 2017b;Cassuto, Ben-Simon, & Berger, 2013) as well as adult examinees (Grossman et al., 2015;Jacoby & Lavidor, 2018). ...
... Data regarding the MOXO-d-CPT profile of adults diagnosed with ADHD is, however, still limited. The attention and hyperactivity indices, rather than timeliness, differentiated between ADHD patients and controls in the only two studies of adults that we are aware of (Grossman et al., 2015;Jacoby & Lavidor, 2018). At present, however, it seems somewhat premature to attempt and reconciling these differences, and more research is clearly needed. ...
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Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the MOXO-d-CPT utility in detecting feigned ADHD and establish cutoffs with adequate specificity and sensitivity. Method: The study had two phases. First, using a prospective design, healthy adults who simulated ADHD were compared with healthy controls and ADHD patients who performed the tasks to the best of their ability ( n = 47 per group). Participants performed the MOXO-d-CPT and an established performance validity test (PVT). Second, the MOXO-d-CPT classification accuracy, employed in Phase 1, was retrospectively compared with archival data of 47 ADHD patients and age-matched healthy controls. Results: Simulators performed significantly worse on all MOXO-d-CPT indices than healthy controls and ADHD patients. Three MOXO-d-CPT indices (attention, hyperactivity, impulsivity) and a scale combining these indices showed adequate discriminative capacity. Conclusion: The MOXO-d-CPT showed promise for the detection of feigned ADHD and, pending replication, can be employed for this aim in clinical practice and ADHD research.
... Slepota z nepozornosti označuje fenomén, kedy si človek nevšimne výrazný alebo zvýraznený podnet, pretože jeho pozornosť je zameraná inam. Grossman et al. (2015) vychádzali z tézy, že osoby s ADHD sú znevýhodnené v súčasnej spoločnosti, kde sa preferuje plánovanie a sústredenie sa na jeden, vzdialený cieľ. Ich výsledky na základe sledovania známeho videa s gorilou a MOXO CPT testu poukazujú na správnosť tejto teórie. ...
... Podotýkame však, že symptómy ADHD neznamenajú vždy zhoršené akademické výsledky a môžu predstavovať v sociálnej sfére aj výhodu. Grossman et al. (2015) navrhujú, aby sa ADHD nepovažovalo za poškodenie, ale za alternatívny kognitívny štýl. Takéto chápanie by mohlo prispieť aj k redukcii predsudkov a stigmatizácie jednotlivcov s poruchami pozornosti. ...
... Dve štúdie (Ben-Yehudah a Brann, 2019; Yeari et al., 2019) diagnózu overili skórovaním v teste na udržanie pozornosti (Conjunctive Continuous Performance Task). Ďalšie práce vyžadovali preukázanie zdravotnej dokumentácie(Grossman et al., 2015;Stamp et al., 2014), registráciu v centre pre osoby so špecifickými vzdelávacími potrebami, resp. doklad o úprave študijných požiadaviek(Clince et al., 2016;Gapin et al., 2015;Grieve et al., 2014). ...
Porucha pozornosti je neurovývinová porucha, ktorá ovplyvňuje mentálne a sociálne fungovanie jednotlivca nielen v detstve. Jej vplyv na vysokoškolské vzdelávanie a pracovný život sa v ostatných dvoch desaťročiach intenzívne študuje. Cieľom tohto prehľadu bolo analyzovať, ktoré premenné súvisiace s poruchou pozornosti sa skúmajú u vysokoškolských študentov, ktoré metódy sa používajú na identifikáciu jednotlivcov so symptómami poruchy pozornosti vo vysokoškolskom vzdelávaní, a ktoré inhibítory a facilitátory môžu ovplyvniť vysokoškolské štúdium osôb so symptómami porúch pozornosti. Na základe rešerše z databázy Web of Science Core Collection za obdobie 1. 1. 2011 – 31. 12. 2020 autorky identifikovali štúdie, ktoré skúmali premenné súvisiace s vysokoškolským štúdiom osôb s poruchou pozornosti. Z pôvodne identifikovaných 307 štúdií do prehľadu zaradili 41.Na identifikáciu jednotlivcov s poruchou pozornosti výskumníci používali kombináciu metód vrátane vlastného deklarovania diagnostikova-nej poruchy, potvrdenia odborníkom a sebahodnotiacich škál symptómov poruchy pozornosti. Skúmané premenné boli zlúčené do siedmich obsahových kategórií. Výsledky ukazujú, že vysokoškolskí študenti s poruchami pozornosti sú zraniteľnou skupinou. Štúdie sa zameriavali skôr na inhibujúce faktory než na faktory, ktoré facilitujú akademický výkon a úspešnosť študentov s poruchou pozornosti. Ďalší výskum by sa mal zamerať na facilitujúce premenné a efektivitu akomodácií a intervencií, ktoré vysoké školy poskytujú tejto skupine študentov.
... Studies show that the ADHD symptoms are part of a spectrum, which ranges from hyperactivity/impulsivity to attentional difficulties, and genetic studies have proposed that ADHD should be regarded as a set of behavioral traits that are also present in the general population but in a less extreme way [1,2]. In addition to the core symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity, one of the main deficits in ADHD, is "selective attention," i.e., selecting a target item while attenuating irrelevant stimuli in the presence of conflicting, distracting information [14,15]. This extreme form of attention or "hyper focusing" is however, not discussed in current conceptions of ADHD symptoms. ...
... In Hartmann's sociological/anthropological theory, the ADHD cognitive profile is described as a hunter in a farming society [53] and based on the hypothesis that the traits associated with ADHD are better for hunters-gatherers and worse as settlers. Hartmann describes the ADHD individual as an expert on hunting with ability to hyper focus and at the same time scanning the environment, ready to take action (i.e., perceive information from attended channels while also doing so from unattended channels) [14,15,53]. Hartmann's theory describes this as having an attentional advantage in the nomadic society, an advantage possibly also in a sport context and could easily be translated into describing for example a soccer player, highly active in a football match. ...
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The current study investigates the possibility that athletes have more parallel ADHD symptoms than non-athletes. High-level youth sport athletes were compared with non-athletes in leisure time (i.e., sport) and in the school in ADHD symptoms. Athletes and students were evaluated by a trained psychotherapist using Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) on activities at school and during activities in leisure/sports time. They also filled in the Autism Spectrum Questionnaire (AQ) as a self-report assessment. Results showed significant differences in ASRS-scores for athletes in school and in their sport, with high scores in school and low scores in sport. No differences were found in AQ between the groups. The findings indicate that many athletes might display a cognitive profile of parallel of ADHD criteria. Future research needs to further investigate potential benefits of the cognitive profile in athletes and how they handle different contexts including sport and school settings.
... Although participants would not necessarily be aware why they are making more mistakes, their mistakes are attributed to the finite nature of limited attentional resources, some of which are allocated to coping with anxiety. Thus, there is less free capacity remaining for processing the cognitive task at hand (Baddeley 1998; see also Grossman et al. 2015). As opposed to the first attentional approach, which is more aligned with the notion that responding (per se) requires attention, and that when such attention is taxed, the default system 1 is activated leading to more bias; the latter attentional approach abides by the limited resource account (Baddeley 1998), whereby tasks that require higher levels of attention would particularly be impacted. ...
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Background Rationality biases, such as the gambling fallacy (e.g., predicting future coin-tosses based on previous tosses) and the famous “Linda” conjunction fallacy (estimating the conjunction that “Linda” is both teller and feminist based on her description) have not been examined in people suffering from acute stress disorder (ASD). We analyze potential outcomes and align them with different theories. Methods To discern the precise pattern of rationality biases in persons with ASD, we examined performance on these 2 tasks within a month of the Hayian Super-Typhoon (August 27th, 2013). Out of a sample of 1001 persons, 82 had clinical ASD and their performance was compared to the remaining 919 participants. Results A specific link between ASD and rationality biases revealed that although conjunction task performance was not associated with ASD diagnosis, coin-task performance was. Namely, responding “Heads” to a 6th coin-toss after 5 successive “Heads” (reverse gambling fallacy) was robustly linked with ASD diagnosis. Conclusion The results align with the bridging of trauma theories claiming that trauma symptoms are generated by disequilibrium following trauma exposure, with prospect theory’s notion of chance, which is conceived as belief in equilibrium restoration. Such disequilibrium following trauma exposure is thus linked with the belief underlying reverse gambling fallacy biases, namely “what-was-will-be”. Implications regarding themes important to address in therapy are mentioned.
... Afterward, participants were asked about the total number of passes and if they had seen anything unusual in the video. This paradigm and its variations have been used in 22 experiments; it has been replicated (Hüttermann & Memmert, 2012) but also adapted by creating new video material (Wayand, Levin, & Varakin, 2005), by using different video lengths (30 seconds, Memmert, 2014), by using different instructions for the primary task (Grossman, Hoffman, Berger, & Zivotofsky, 2015), and by including additional unexpected events (Simons, 2010). An obvious advantage of an inattentional blindness task like the gorilla video by Simons and Chabris (1999) is its realistic and dynamic nature. ...
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During the past two decades, the interest in investigating the phenomenon of inattentional blindness strongly increased and resulted in a fraying of paradigms investigating this specific failure of awareness. We reviewed 129 full‐text articles containing 219 experiments for their design and methods to create awareness for the growing variety of inattentional blindness paradigms. Also, we promote a deliberate use of future paradigms (proposedly based on their functionality and representativeness) to improve the transferability of research findings to the real world. In general, we argue that paradigms should be well‐chosen based on the respective purpose, as the concept of inattentional blindness represents most likely several subtypes with different underlying mechanisms rather than a single phenomenon. Finally, we propose to include expectancy as a continuous variable into the definition of inattentional blindness rather than using it as an exclusion criterion.
... All this makes gaming an attractive activity for children with symptoms of ADHD , perhaps increasing risk of developing IGD. Children with ADHD also show a preference for stimulus-rich environments and may in fact perform better than others when tracking rapidly moving objects in shifting environments (Grossman, Hoffman, Berger, & Zivotofsky, 2015)a situation characteristic of many games. It is perhaps for these and related reasons that attention problems (Peeters, Koning, & van den Eijnden, 2018), poor regulation skills (Wichstrøm et al., 2019) and higher levels of hyperactivity/ inattention each predict symptoms of pathological gaming (Wartberg et al., 2019). ...
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Background Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is highlighted as a condition for further study in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM‐5). Some studies indicate that IGD appears comorbid with other psychiatric disorders. We examine concurrent and prospective links between symptoms of IGD and symptoms of common psychiatric disorders in childhood and adolescence to determine whether observed comorbidity is a result of (a) reciprocal relations or (b) common underlying causes. Methods A community sample (n = 702) of Norwegian children completed the Internet Gaming Disorder Interview (IGDI) to assess DSM‐5 defined IGD symptoms at ages 10, 12 and 14 years. The Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment (CAPA) assessed symptoms of depression, anxiety, attention‐deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD) at the same time points. Results A Random Intercept Cross‐lagged Panel Model (RI‐CLPM), which captures pure within‐person changes and adjusts for all unmeasured time‐invariant factors (e.g., genetics, parent education) revealed no associations between IGD symptoms and psychopathology, except that increased IGD symptoms at ages 10 and 12 predicted decreased symptoms of anxiety two years later. Conclusions No support emerged for concurrent or prospective relations between IGD and psychiatric symptoms, except in one case: increased IGD symptoms forecasted reduction in anxiety symptoms. Observed co‐occurrence between IGD symptoms and mental health problems can mainly be attributed to common underlying factors.
... One example is the inattentional blindness (IB) task in which participants engage in a primary task rather than actively search for a change, so that attentional capture by a salient unexpected stimulus is necessary to detect a change. There is some circumstantial evidence for this hypothesis, as adults with attentional deficit disorder tend to perform better than controls in IB paradigms (Grossman et al. 2015). ...
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The phenomenon of change blindness reveals that people are surprisingly poor at detecting unexpected visual changes; however, research on individual differences in detection ability is scarce. Predictive processing accounts of visual perception suggest that better change detection may be linked to assigning greater weight to prediction error signals, as indexed by an increased alternation rate in perceptual rivalry or greater sensitivity to low-level visual signals. Alternatively, superior detection ability may be associated with robust visual predictions against which sensory changes can be more effectively registered, suggesting an association with high-level mechanisms of visual short-term memory (VSTM) and attention. We administered a battery of 10 measures to explore these predictions and to determine, for the first time, the test–retest reliability of commonly used change detection measures. Change detection performance was stable over time and generalized from displays of static scenes to video clips. An exploratory factor analysis revealed two factors explaining performance across the battery, that we identify as visual stability (loading on change detection, attention measures, VSTM and perceptual rivalry) and visual ability (loading on iconic memory, temporal order judgments and contrast sensitivity). These results highlight the importance of strong, stable representations and the ability to resist distraction, in order to successfully incorporate unexpected changes into the contents of visual awareness.
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Specific learning disorders (SLD) persist into adulthood. Persons with SLD frequently experience emotional and social difficulties. Following qualitative descriptions of individuals with SLD who experienced learning, as traumatic, we hypothesized that individuals reporting SLD would report higher levels of learning-based post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) symptoms. In Study 1 (N = 216), participants responded to questionnaires concerning SLD and learning-based PTSD. A separate sample (N = 43) was queried about adjustment disorder symptoms. Study 2 (N = 176) examined if current psychological distress was predicted by levels of learning-based PTSD at each developmental stage (elementary/high-school/post-high-school) and whether SLD links to current psychological distress. Finally, we assessed if SLD-psychological distress associations are mediated by cumulative levels of learning-based PTSD across these school periods. In Study 1 individuals reporting SLD displayed higher learning-based PTSD levels than those without SLD. SLD-PTSD associations held beyond adjustment disorder symptom levels. In Study 2, SLD was linked with psychological distress, mediated by accumulated learning-based PTSD symptom levels across school periods. These results suggest that in individuals with SLD, learning experiences may be associated with learning-based PTSD symptoms. Further, persons with SLD may be scarred by their traumatic learning experiences linking with current psychological distress, a link mediated by cumulative difficulties experienced over school years.
The human attention control system uses various strategies to allocate neural processing resources to different incoming stimuli. These strategies form different kinds of attention. The performance of the attention system depends on the stimuli characteristics as well as the selected allocation strategy. Based on these effective factors, several attention-related phenomena and hypotheses have been reported so far. In this chapter, various types of attention are introduced, and the observed phenomena and the proposed hypotheses about the attention system are discussed.
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Attention and awareness are known to be linked (e.g., see Lavie et al., 2014, for a review). However the extent to which this link changes over development is not fully understood. Most research concerning the development of attention has investigated the effects of attention on distraction, visual search and spatial orienting, typically using reaction time measures which cannot directly support conclusions about conscious awareness. Here we used Lavie's Load Theory of Attention and Cognitive Control to examine the development of attention effects on awareness. According to Load Theory, awareness levels are determined by the availability of attentional capacity. We hypothesized that attentional capacity develops with age, and consequently that awareness rates should increase with development due to the enhanced capacity. Thus we predicted that greater rates of inattentional blindness (IB) would be found at a younger age, and that lower levels of load will be sufficient to exhaust capacity and cause IB in children but not adults. We tested this hypothesis using an IB paradigm with adults and children aged 7-8, 9-10, 11-12 and 13 years old. Participants performed a line-length judgment task (indicating which arm of a cross is longer) and on the last trial were asked to report whether they noticed an unexpected task-irrelevant stimulus (a small square) in the display. Perceptual load was varied by changing the line-length difference (with a smaller difference in the conditions of higher load). The results supported our hypothesis: levels of awareness increased with age, and a moderate increase in the perceptual load of the task led to greater IB for children but not adults. These results extended across both peripheral and central presentations of the task stimuli. Overall, these findings establish the development of capacity for awareness and demonstrate the critical role of the perceptual load in the attended task.
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Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neuropsychiatric disorder that has not been well studied in older adults. In this study we examined relationships between ADHD symptoms and cognitive ability and compared them between middle-age (MA; 48-52 years) and older-age (OA; 68-74 years) adults sampled from the same population. ADHD, mood disorder symptoms and cognitive abilities were assessed in a large population-based sample (n = 3443; 50% male). We measured current ADHD symptoms using the adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS), which we found to have the same underlying structure in both cohorts. Older adults reported significantly lower levels of ADHD symptoms and 2.2% of the OA cohort scored equal or above the ASRS cut-off score of 14 (which has been previously associated with ADHD diagnosis) compared with 6.2% of MA adults. Symptom levels were not significantly different between males and females. Using multi-group structural equation modelling we compared ADHD symptom-cognitive performance relationships between the two age groups. Generally higher ADHD symptoms were associated with poorer cognitive performance in the MA cohort. However, higher levels of inattention symptoms were associated with better verbal ability in both cohorts. Surprisingly, greater hyperactivity was associated with better task-switching abilities in older adults. In the OA cohort ADHD symptom-cognition relationships are indirect, mediated largely through the strong association between depression symptoms and cognition. Our results suggest that ADHD symptoms decrease with age and that their relationships with co-occurring mood disorders and cognitive performance also change. Although symptoms of depression are lower in older adults, they are much stronger predictors of cognitive performance and likely mediate the effect of ADHD symptoms on cognition in this age group. These results highlight the need for age-appropriate diagnosis and treatment of comorbid ADHD and mood disorders.
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Objective: Increased vulnerability to extraneous distraction is a key symptom of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which may have particularly disruptive consequences. Here we apply Load Theory of attention to increase understanding of this symptom, and to explore a potential method for ameliorating it. Previous research in nonclinical populations has highlighted increased perceptual load as a means of improving the ability to focus attention and avoid distraction. The present study examines whether adults with ADHD can also benefit from conditions of high perceptual load to improve their focused attention abilities. Method: We tested adults with ADHD and age- and IQ-matched controls on a novel measure of irrelevant distraction under load, designed to parallel the form of distraction that is symptomatic of ADHD. During a letter search task, in which perceptual load was varied through search set size, participants were required to ignore salient yet entirely irrelevant distractors (colorful images of cartoon characters) presented infrequently (10% of trials). Results: The presence of these distractors produced a significantly greater interference effect on the search RTs for the adults with ADHD compared with controls, p = .005, ηp² = .231. Perceptual load, however, significantly reduced distractor interference for the ADHD group and was as effective in reducing the elevated distractor interference in ADHD as it was for controls. Conclusions: These findings clarify the nature of the attention deficit underlying increased distraction in ADHD, and demonstrate a tangible method for overcoming it.
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Diagnosis of ADHD in adolescents involves specific challenges. Conventional CPT's may fail to consistently distinguish ADHD from non-ADHD due to insufficient cognitive demands. The aim of this study was to explore whether the incorporation of environmental distractors into a CPT would increase its ability to distinguish ADHD from non-ADHD adolescents. New Method: Using the rate of omission errors as a measure of difficulty in sustained attention, this study examined whether ADHD adolescents are more distracted than controls and which type of distractors is more effective in terms of ADHD diagnosis. The study employed the MOXO-CPT version which includes visual and auditory stimuli serving as distractors. Participants were 176 adolescents aged 13-18 years, 133 diagnosed with ADHD and 43 without ADHD. Results and Comparison with existing methods: Results showed that ADHD adolescents produced significantly more omission errors in the presence of pure visual distractors and the combination of visual and auditory distractors than in no-distractors conditions. Distracting stimuli had no effect on CPT performance of non-ADHD adolescents. ROC analysis further demonstrated that the mere presence of distractors improved the utility of the test. This study provides evidence that incorporation of environmental distractors into a CPT is useful in term of ADHD diagnosis. ADHD adolescents were more distracted than controls by all types of environmental distractors. ADHD adolescents were more distracted by pure visual distractors and by the combination of distractors than by pure auditory ones.
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Researchers have shown that people often miss the occurrence of an unexpected yet salient event if they are engaged in a different task, a phenomenon known as inattentional blindness. However, demonstrations of inattentional blindness have typically involved naive observers engaged in an unfamiliar task. What about expert searchers who have spent years honing their ability to detect small abnormalities in specific types of images? We asked 24 radiologists to perform a familiar lung-nodule detection task. A gorilla, 48 times the size of the average nodule, was inserted in the last case that was presented. Eighty-three percent of the radiologists did not see the gorilla. Eye tracking revealed that the majority of those who missed the gorilla looked directly at its location. Thus, even expert searchers, operating in their domain of expertise, are vulnerable to inattentional blindness.
Objective: Despite growing interest in adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), little is known about its prevalence or correlates. Method: A screen for adult ADHD was included in a probability subsample (N=3,199) of 18-44-year-old respondents in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, a nationally representative household survey that used a lay-administered diagnostic interview to assess a wide range of DSM-IV disorders. Blinded clinical follow-up interviews of adult ADHD were carried out with 154 respondents, oversampling those with positive screen results. Multiple imputation was used to estimate prevalence and correlates of clinician-assessed adult ADHD. Results: The estimated prevalence of current adult ADHD was 4.4%. Significant correlates included being male, previously married, unemployed, and non-Hispanic white. Adult ADHD was highly comorbid with many other DSM-IV disorders assessed in the survey and was associated with substantial role impairment. The majority of cases were untreated, although many individuals had obtained treatment for other comorbid mental and substance-related disorders. Conclusions: Efforts are needed to increase the detection and treatment of adult ADHD. Research is needed to determine whether effective treatment would reduce the onset, persistence, and severity of disorders that co-occur with adult ADHD.
Although, in everyday life, patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are frequently distracted by goal-irrelevant affective stimuli, little is known about the neural and behavioral substrates underlying this emotional distractibility. Because some of the most important brain responses associated with the sudden onset of an emotional distracter are characterized by their early latency onset and short duration, we addressed this issue by using a temporally agile neural signal capable of detecting and distinguishing them. Specifically, scalp event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded while 20 boys with ADHD combined type and 20 healthy comparison subjects performed a digit categorization task during the presentation of three types of irrelevant, distracting stimuli: arousing negative (A-), neutral (N) and arousing positive (A+). Behavioral data showed that emotional distracters (both A- and A+) were associated with longer reaction times than neutral ones in the ADHD group, whereas no differences were found in the control group. ERP data revealed that, compared with control subjects, boys with ADHD showed larger anterior N2 amplitudes for emotional than for neutral distracters. Furthermore, regression analyses between ERP data and subjects' emotional ratings of distracting stimuli showed that only in the ADHD group, emotional arousal (ranging from calming to arousing) was associated with anterior N2: its amplitude increased as the arousal content of the visual distracter increased. These results suggest that boys with ADHD are more vulnerable to the distracting effects of irrelevant emotional stimuli than control subjects. The present study provides first data on the neural substrates underlying emotional distractibility in ADHD.
The extent to which people can focus attention in the face of irrelevant distractions has been shown to critically depend on the level and type of information load involved in their current task. The ability to focus attention improves under task conditions of high perceptual load but deteriorates under conditions of high load on cognitive control processes such as working memory. I review recent research on the effects of load on visual awareness and brain activity, including changing effects over the life span, and I outline the consequences for distraction and inattention in daily life and in clinical populations.