It sometimes takes just that one look from a parent to calm their hyper child down. New research suggests that just one look could also help properly diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects 11 percent of children in the U.S, making it the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder. The disorder is commonly over and misdiagnosed, which could lead to the over prescribing and medicating in our pill-fixes-everything culture.
According to a study published in Vision Research by researchers at American Friends of Tel Aviv University, an "inability to suppress eye movement" in reaction to a visual stimulus is directly linked to having ADHD.
"We had two objectives going into this research," said Moshe Fried, Ph.D., "The first was to provide a new diagnostic tool for ADHD, and the second was to test whether ADHD medication really works - and we found that it does," continued Fried, who is diagnosed with ADHD.
Researchers conducted exercises on two groups of 22 adult study participants—one diagnosed with ADHD, the other a control group—that tracked involuntary eye movement. The participants took a Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA) diagnostic test using an eye-tracking system to monitor their eye movements.
"This test is affordable and accessible, rendering it a practical and foolproof tool for medical professionals," said Dr. Moshe Fried, one of the lead researchers. "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."
The ADHD group was given the exercise test that last for 22 minutes without medication. They then were medicated with methylphenidate and given the test again.
There was a direct link between ADHD and the inability to suppress eye movement when stimulated.
Researchers were able to find that the foolproof way to diagnose the disorder has been in plain sight, but they also found that the commonly prescribed drug to treat ADHD, Ritalin, had a positive effect on the study participants.
"Our study also reflected that methylphenidate does work. It is certainly not a placebo, as some have suggested," Fried said.
Researches continue to conduct the study on larger control groups to see if they results are repeated.