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James Brody
November 28th, 2004, 08:46 PM
ADHD: Inhibition, Emergent Networks, and Maternal Investment


Published as Brody, J. F. (2004) ADHD: Inhibition, Emergent Networks, and Maternal Investment. In Michelle Larimer (Ed.) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Research. Hauppage, NY: Nova Science Biomedical Series. 41 damned pages!

Abstract

First, this chapter is not a survey of new findings but a different way to view old ones. It extends Barkley?s 1997 theory that ADHD is a neurological disorder of impaired executive functions and suggests that ADHD produces many difficulties in small-world, emergent social networks wherein most interaction is between similar neighbors but, much of the time, in synchrony with more distant, less similar groups. Because of network phenomena, we can expect problems in managing the relative importance of competing ideas and the mutual influences between them.

Second, ADHD probably has a genetic foundation but one that interacts with less-than-ideal environments, particularly for males in utero. I review the special challenges of a male fetus to a less than robust mother.

Third, females screen males, whether in ADHD assessments of sons or in the informal but instinctive and more demanding assessments of prospective husbands. Males face the same rules four times: as toddlers, in school, again in courtship, and forever in marriage. There are significant implications that align research in mate selection with that about ADHD.

Fourth, language has been proposed as a vital underpinning for human executive functions and ADHD individuals often have difficulty with it. Obvious parallels, however, exist between executive functions and even the behavior of plants: we might reinterpret the adaptive roles of language and expect ADHD individuals, regardless of linguistic skill, to have intact executive functions in specific areas defined by the evolutionary history of the human species. That is, ADHD may not always be a domain general disability.

Finally, the chapter explores how we assess and treat ADHD. That is, if the individual is not handicapped in all of his adaptive strategies, then mates, peers, families, and employers should find intact abilities that compensate for their extra investment in him. Along these lines, behavior genetics reminds us that specific talents appear within families for several generations and that every living creature arranges its own environment. Given time to sample and merge with opportunities, even ADHD individuals may attain a union with their niche.