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Current models of ADHD predict difficulty in engaging with prolonged executive function tasks. These models also describe individuals with ADHD as being more sensitive to reward when compared to the general population. This study, published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, sought to manipulate executive function tasks in ways that might increase cognitive performance and improve symptoms in adults with ADHD.

Study participants included 36 adults with ADHD and 36 controls. The study involved two sessions separated by a week, during which participants were given tasks to complete in different environments. One session of the study included reward-based manipulations that were hypothesized to increase cognitive performance in the participants with ADHD. Additional manipulations included acute physical exercise and continuous fine montor movement. 

Ultimately, no significant effects were found in this study. However, reward was correlated with higher levels of hyperactivity. Furthermore, acute physical exercise was correlated with increased attention. The researchers concluded that the manipulations may affect performance and symptoms in various ways and that this study does not show whether they are beneficial or detrimental [1].


[1] Kallweit, C., Paucke, M., Strauß, M., & Exner, C. (2019). Adult ADHD: Influence of physical activation, stimulation, and reward on cognitive performance and symptoms. Journal of Attention Disorders, 25(6), 809–819. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054719845050

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