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Faculty Associate Studies Relationship Between ADHD and Poor Academic Achievement

Posted on April 26, 2011

Faculty Associate Dr. Lee Thompson of the Department of Psychological Sciences recently co-authored a study on the relationship between ADHD behaviors and academic performance, published in Psychological Sciences. The study, which included 271 pairs of ten-year-old identical and fraternal twins, found that the link between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and academic performance is due to a variety of interactions between genes and environment.

Although the majority of twins did not have ADHD, Dr. Thompson and her colleagues studied a variety of behavioral symptoms of ADHD on a continuum, focusing on inattention and hyperactivity, as rated by mothers and researchers, as well as mathematics and reading ability. In analyzing their data, they found that some genes influence behavioral symptoms, mathematics ability and reading ability simultaneously while others influence each specifically.

In a press release about the study, Dr. Thompson notes that although the study does show a relationship between poor academics and ADHD behaviors, genes are not everything and interventions can modify the environmental influence on both academic achievement and ADHD behaviors. Finally, the study notes that future research should focus on identifying the mechanisms behind the connection between ADHD symptoms and poor academic achievement to identify areas for intervention.

Dr. Thompson recently gave a Schubert Conversation on other findings from her study of twins on children’s development of mathematical skills.

To read a press release summarizing the findings of Dr. Thompson’s research, click here.

To read the study published in 2010 by Dr. Thompson, click here.