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Dr. Levin's response to research paper

Misrepresentation of Neuroscience Data Might Give Rise to Misleading Conclusions in the Media: The Case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The following is an abstract of the research paper concerned and Dr. Levin's response is below.

Authors: Francois Gonon 1,2, Erwan Bezard 1,2, Thomas Boraud 1,2

1 Institut des Maladies Neurodégénératives, University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France, 2 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique UMR 5293, Bordeaux, France


There is often a huge gap between neurobiological facts and firm conclusions stated by the media. Data misrepresentation in the conclusions and summaries of neuroscience articles might contribute to this gap.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Using the case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), we identified three types of misrepresentation. The first relies on prominent inconsistencies between results and claimed conclusions and was observed in two scientific reports dealing with ADHD. Only one out of the 61 media articles echoing both scientific reports adequately described the results and, thus questioned the claimed conclusion. The second type of misrepresentation consists in putting a firm conclusion in the summary while raw data that strongly limit the claim are only given in the results section. To quantify this misrepresentation we analyzed the summaries of all articles asserting that polymorphisms of the gene coding for the D4 dopaminergic receptor are associated with ADHD. Only 25 summaries out of 159 also mentioned that this association confers a small risk. This misrepresentation is also observed in most media articles reporting on ADHD and the D4 gene. The third misrepresentation consists in extrapolating basic and pre-clinical findings to new therapeutic prospects in inappropriate ways. Indeed, analysis of all ADHD-related studies in mice showed that 23% of the conclusions were overstated. The frequency of this overstatement was positively related with the impact factor of the journal.


Data misrepresentations are frequent in the scientific literature dealing with ADHD and may contribute to the appearance of misleading conclusions in the media. In synergy with citation distortions and publication biases they influence social representations and bias the scientific evidence in favor of the view that ADHD is primarily caused by biological factors. We discuss the social consequences and the causes of data misrepresentations and suggest a few corrective actions.

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Dr. Levin's response sent to the Authors.

“Confusion, poor insight, biased attitude, hidden agendas (and more) reign supreme. Not to mention utter ignorance! Why should this be when Nobel laureate Roger Sperry's split brain experiments shed complete insight into ADHD more than 30 years ago? Yet animal studies are still quoted despite the fact that one of the most important aspects in ADHD is the understanding of the left brain's verbal sequential language ability, which is absent in the rat.

Groping in the dark about the D4 has no relevance . Cardiff university have concluded finally and published in the Lancet in 2010, that ADHD is genetically inherited. Renshaw (Loyola University ) concluded this with the recognition of the many metamorphic feature so often seen in ADHD in 1980! No gene research was required.

Dopamine research is incomplete as only some areas, especially on the left hemisphere are deficient in Dopamine. It must be concluded that if certain areas on the right hemisphere possess abundant talent there cannot be any Dopamine deficit. ADHD is not a lack of talent (on left hemisphere) but rather an inability to use it until artificially boosted with stimulants. If this is correct than giving Ritalin to someone without the dysfunction can only have very limited effect as they have left brain dominance, not right as seen in ADHD...

The American Psychiatric society published their totally inappropriate and unacceptable DSM iv on ADHD so many years ago, despite opposition from some of their own more informed members. To echo this the America Paediatric Society condemned the DSM iv the day it was published. I believe, 18 years later the new DSM V is due.(What's the hurry?) How can the most complicated computer on the planet (human brain) be denigrated to 3 concepts only (hyperactivity, distracability and inattention).

If ADHD is a genetically inherited tendency to left brain immaturity ( not damage) and/or right brain dominance how can research implicate the diet factor or excessive sugar intake? Does the incorrect food only affect the left brain while fostering the right? I lectured on L/R brain dysfunction at a National Medical Congress in Cape Town (South Africa.) UCLA (University California Los Angles) conclude the same in 2009. My lecture was in 1982!

Thus it is not surprising that confusion, ignorance and consternation exists in the most misunderstood , poorly treated and grossly neglected condition on planet earth causing major problems. It does not surprise me any more after 35 years of dedicated ADHD practice, that 50% of referrals to me have seen Psychologists, Paediatricians, Neurologists, Occupational Therapists (who make ADHD worse) and more with no or little success. I advise online in the UK and in the USA. Clearly there is international confusion and in my humble opinion ignorance especially with the use of stimulant medication. It is no wonder the media make a meal of it and thrive on "journalistic sensationalisms". I once challenged an article in a glossy magazine. Their comment was it matters little as long as it sells!

My articles are available if anybody is interested

Dr Billy Levin

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