Children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive. This can cause problems at home, school, work, or in relationships. A new study has suggested that a little praise or reward improves the performance of children with ADHD on certain cognitive tasks, more so than they would for typically developing kids.
Research Whitney Fosco from the University at Buffalo in the US said, "Kids with ADHD showed more improvement because they are more motivated by the opportunity to gain rewards, not because they simply did worse from the beginning."
For the study, researchers examined two leading theories on ADHD, combining what previous work had mostly looked at separately. One of those theories suggests that lower-than-average cognitive abilities contribute to symptoms associated with ADHD, like inattentiveness. The other theory favors motivation over ability, focusing on whether children with ADHD have an increased sensitivity to reward.
The study's principle investigator Larry Hawk from the University at Buffalo said, "When asking whether the performance difference we see is the result of ability or motivation, this research has more of an answer than any study that comes before it. You cannot say kids with ADHD respond more to reinforcement because they were doing poorly to begin with. We showed that was not true. It was greater motivation to obtain external rewards that drove the effects we observed." .
The findings appeared in Behavioral and Brain Functions.