Watch: time-lapse of a student with ADHD watching a math video versus watching Star Wars

Researchers at University of Central Florida found that people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) will fidget more when given cognitively demanding tasks. They came to this conclusion after sitting ADHD students in front of a display playing the pod-race scene from Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace, which the students watched with little body movement, and a math instructional video, which made the students swivel in the chair, tap their feet, and fidget.

From UCF:

That may not seem surprising. After all, weren't the children absorbed by the sci-fi movie and bored by the math lesson? Not so, [ Mark Rapport, director of the Children's Learning Clinic at the University of Central Florida] said.

"That's just using the outcome to explain the cause," he said. "We have shown that what's really going on is that it depends on the cognitive demands of the task. With the action movie, there's no thinking involved – you're just viewing it, using your senses. You don't have to hold anything in your brain and analyze it. With the math video, they are using their working memory, and in that condition movement helps them to be more focused."

The takeaway: Parents and teachers of children with ADHD should avoid labeling them as unmotivated slackers when they're working on tasks that require working memory and cognitive processing, researchers said.

[via Digg]