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Potential Research To Help Individuals With ADHD
In Their Visual Processing, Especially Reading Ability

Update 31st January 2018 - Unfortunately funding was not given for this study

Samantha Tyler contacted us as follows:

My name is Samantha and I am currently a postgraduate student interested in improving learning outcomes for ADHD individuals. I am currently in the process of applying for funding for a PhD in visual training in ADHD. I am a cheerful person who works well with children and have experience working with children broadly, as well as more specific experience in assessing a child with special learning needs during my school work experience.

Individuals with ADHD often struggle with visual tasks such as reading due to a problem with sustaining attention, among others. Reading is a complex process involving extracting central ideas from surrounding text which is hard to achieve if you have a problem with ignoring distracting information (shown in ADHD). Therefore, if individuals with ADHD could be trained to use a process for accessing this visual information which requires less attentional demands on the individual, this would improve the child’s ability to perform visual tasks like reading. Other research has found training on a feature difference visual task improved performance on a task involving extracting information from distractors (necessary for reading). This training has been found to generalise to other visual tasks, and to last for at least 6 months, which suggests long-term gains from this training. I am particularly interested to see whether this training could help individuals with ADHD in their visual processing, especially reading ability.

My PhD is likely to start September 2018 at the earliest. The study will look at initial performance of ADHD individuals and age-matched individuals (preferable with a similar reading ability as the ADHD individuals, but this is not essential) on tests of reading, feature difference and identifying a target from distractors (all tasks will be age-relevant). This should take about half an hour. Then training will involve learning with just the feature difference task which would be best done on consecutive days (each session should last half an hour or less in the afternoon) for the ADHD individuals. Finally, tests of reading performance, feature difference and identifying target from distractors will be done again to determine if any improvements have been found in the ADHD individuals, with a final comparison to the same age-matched participants. It would also be useful to see how they perform later in the year and whether these effects last.

I envisage that this training programme will only take one week from start to finish for each person with ADHD, with one follow-up session at 3 months, 6 months and 9 months. The age-matched non-ADHD control participants will be assessed at only the beginning and end of the training week and again at each follow-up timepoint.

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