A systematic review of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and mathematical ability: current findings and future implications

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Several recent behavioural and behavioural genetic studies have investigated the relationship between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and mathematical ability. The aim of this systematic review was to provide an overview of these studies to date. An emphasis was placed on reviewing results that explored the association between mathematics and the two ADHD components of attention and hyperactivity-impulsivity separately.

METHODS: A systematic search of quantitative studies investigating the association between mathematics and ADHD was conducted across five databases (PsychINFO, Web of Science, PubMed, EMBASE, and Scopus). A total of 30 cross-sectional and four longitudinal studies were included in this review.

RESULTS: Narrative synthesis of the results was provided using PRISMA guidelines. Taken together, the studies pointed at substantial evidence for a negative association between ADHD symptoms and mathematical ability. This association was particularly marked for the inattentive component of ADHD than for the hyperactive-impulsive component. Evidence from twin studies also showed a significant genetic correlation between mathematics and ADHD, which was greater for the inattentive component of ADHD compared to the hyperactive-impulsive component.

CONCLUSIONS: The differential relationship of the hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattention domains with mathematics emphasises the heterogeneity within the disorder and suggests a partially different aetiology of the two ADHD domains. A better understanding of the aetiology of ADHD could help develop more efficient interventions aimed at the reduction of its symptoms. It could also offer an explanatory framework for shortcomings in achievement and inform the development of non-pharmacological intervention strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number204
JournalBMC Medicine
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2015

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Comprehension
  • Educational Measurement
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mathematical Concepts

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