Prism Adaptation and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

Anne O'Malley, The College of Wooster


Recent brain imaging studies have shown that both striatal and cerebellar neuronal networks are highly involved in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Therefore, motor learning tasks associated with these brain regions might show differences between ADHD individuals and non-ADHD controls. One test that has been widely used to assess motor adaptation is that of prism adaptation. This task involves throwing balls at a target before, during and after the visual field has been laterally shifted using prism lenses. Here, 10 ADHD and 12 non-ADHD participants between 18 and 23 years of age were tested for motor learning differences in the prism adaptation task. The specific hypothesis tested was that participants with ADHD would adapt more slowly and thus, exhibit more error than non-ADHD participants. An independent samples t-test showed that there was no difference between groups (ADHD vs. non-ADHD). Since the main hypothesis was rejected, the second question as to whether there was a significant amount of error in performing the task for all participants was tested and found to significant. Results showed that although all participants performed as expected for this task, there were no significant differences between ADHD and normal controls in motor learning. The findings suggest that young adult ADHD participants do not exhibit a significant impairment of their motor skills as measured by this task.