back to article Video games linked to ADD? Say it ain't ooh butterfly

Pity the brain that plays video games. Whether or not avid gaming turns one into bloodthirsty monster is a matter of open dispute among researchers, but one concession often observed is that video games at least trains mind and body to react faster. Alas, a new study from Iowa State University not only disputes this claim, but …


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  1. Filippo Silver badge

    Be wary of correlation

    So, videogames cause ADD? Or are people with ADD naturally attracted to videogames? Or is there a common cause?

  2. davefb

    More like video games

    make researchers say utter drivel.

  3. Sir Runcible Spoon

    in other shock news

    People who drive more than four hours a day suffer delayed response times when a child is thrown under their wheels.

    Therefore driving causes ADD. QED innit.

  4. KirstarK

    er ?


    What they are saying is taht to react faster you pay less attension ?

    ermmmm duh.

    However with training errors will vanish. Look at soldiers and police. They train to react fast and accurately.

  5. MonkeyBot

    Define ADD

    If you're going to claim an attention deficit than there must be an appropriate level of attention and presumably there must also be an attention excess disorder.

    This test of theirs sounds boring as hell so any kid who's used to playing computer games probably wants to skip past as fast as possible.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Proactive and Stroop.

    I'm looking forward to giving their paper a thorough critical analysis. That's quite a claim to get from the Stroop Test to causality of ADD from video games.

  7. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Far more likely.

    The "frequent" gamers were more interested in getting the bloody stupid test out of the way as quuickly as possible so they could get back to the mayhem and destruction, whereas the less serious ones were prepared to give it a few minutes of their time. i.e. you could just read the results as showing that gaming maybe somewhat addictive. But that would be out of the "no shit Sherlock" school of research results and not newsworthy of course.

    Just out of interest, exactly why would anyone think that gaming would have any correlation with ADD, given that it's well known for its practitioners to sit immersed in and riveted to the things for large numbers of hours on end, showing no interest at all in their surroundings? Particularly as with most of the stuff I've played, any deficit in attention invariably results in something nasty happening to you.

  8. The Original Ash

    Are they sure...

    ... That the game players were just used to being more engaged, and considered the "game" provided by the researchers to be BORING?!


    Science fail.

  9. Paul Hates Handles

    Or... could just be that once you've had high levels of entertainment and fun playing games other things are just boring :D

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    show the numbers

    Causal link? Doubtful. ADD sufferers being more likely to be addicted to video games? I'd believe that. Based on my own research with a condition that personally affects me in various unfortunate ways.

  11. Pete 2 Silver badge


    > there's "relation" between frequent video game playing and ADD. That ought to get them media hacks riled up.

    ... they won't stay "riled up" for long, before they've forgotten all about it and found something else to occupy themselves with for another 5 minutes.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    What utter crap

    As an adult with ADHD who also has a son with ADHD, and who has done a lot of reading in this area, I have to say that this sounds complete rubbish to me. People with attention deficit have symptoms throughout their lifetime, it is not something that you can 'pick up' from playing video games.

    Something that has to be borne in mind is that ADD/ADHD is a condition that varies in intensity. My son is more affected than I am, so he was picked up very soon after entering eductation, whereas I was not diagnosed until recently although the symptoms have played merry hell with all aspects of my life.

    It could simply be that this study has happened across a way of determining the presence of ADHD in people that already have it. There are a lot of undiagnosed people out there, some bad enough to benefit from treatment, while others have symptoms that can be attributed to very mild ADHD but are not severe enough to warrant treatment. Or, it could simply be badly analysed research. Were any of the people used in this study assessed prior, by an expert in ADHD, to determine if there was any undiagnosed predisposition?

    I'm not particularly impressed with the 'Daily Mail' treatment you've given this news. Fail on all fronts.

  13. Brian Miller 1

    Or Maybe...

    Video gamers don't have to use as much of their brain power to perform this task. I would like to know if the results were significantly different between the two groups with regard to accuracy and time taken per answer.

    It might just be the case that video gamers are better at dissociating the word from the colour.

    In other words, video gamers are better at the task and inherently need less attention to complete it accurately.

    Take all sociological "sciences" research with a grain of salt. Also if the research is from the USA you can take two grains of salt. Too many political agendas are looking for "scientific proof" over there.

  14. Gulfie

    ...and another thing...

    This is American research into ADHD.

    You should be very suspicious of any US based research that tries to explain away ADHD. Just search for information on ADHD and you'll see that the yanks really don't try to understand ADHD, or the medicines that work so well (when properly prescribed) to treat the condition. Video games weren't around in the 1960s when ADHD started to be treated, successfully, with stimulant medication.

    Most yanks think that ADHD is down to consuming E numbers and junk food, and can be fixed with diet and other approaches. Some of the more medically sound approaches around coaching and psychological support can help, but they do not treat the root cause, merely alleviate some of the symptoms.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I like games!

    I like to play a lot of games, do programming projects, electronic projects etc.. I also like to go out clubbing partying and many other "normal social activities" but I do love computers. And yes often people tell me i'm hyper!

  16. ThaMossop

    Brain training

    Results could be swayed if the test subjects were playing brain training games as at least one of them includes the say the colour of the word, not the word itself, type tests as part of it's gameplay.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But what kind....

    There is a big diffrence in the way you play an FPS (Fast reactions, but 5 mins attention) and a MMORPG (Slower reactions, but you need to pay attention for hours at a time, take direction and work as a team)

  18. Nick G


    Sorry, mind wandered off - what was the article about??

  19. Graham Bartlett


    Gamers required less brain processing power to complete the task - so they have ADD? How does that follow?

    After 15 years of playing guitar, I can read a sequence of chords and the playing just happens with virtually no conscious effort, so I'm damn sure someone brain-scanning me whilst I strum your standard 3-chord blues would see very little processing going on. A newbie player might require a 10-second gap between each chord to remember where their fingers went, and their brain would be lit up like a Christmas tree. Does that mean I have ADD?

    What's more interesting here is that gaming is apparently training people to be more capable of solving the Stroop test. This has two implications. The first is to find out how the training is happening, because this kind of improved mental flexibility might be desirable. And the second is that any study using the Stroop test needs to be wary of including gamers in the study, unless the study first works out every individual's baseline ability in the test before carrying out whatever study to look for improvements.

    That icon is me stealing the lab-coat off whichever pseudo-scientists thought this one up...

  20. Edward Noad


    More experience at computer games makes them easier and thus less taxing on the gray matter.

    I can haz reserch grant?

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Funded by?

    I wonder who funded this "research"? Would it by any chance someone with vested interest in dsampening sales of games to minors, say a politician/religious group who might be trying to gain some ground.

    If a scientist said it, well it must be true!

    Always find it interesting that many religious groups shun science then when a report comes out that might aid their cause, they quickly get behind it!

    ( Pint, getting near the weekend, getting all militant! )

  22. jai

    where's the control group?

    this experiment only compares two types of gamers - there's no correlation to other activities

    what about people who are down the gym training for more than 4 hours a day? compared wiht those who don't work out that much?

    people who's work requires them to drive a car for more than 4 hours a day? compared to those who's daily commute is 30 minutes?

    people who sit in research labs doing stupid experiments for more than 4-hours a day compared to those of us who use our time for worthwhile projects?

    i suspect, if there is indeed a link, it's more likely that anyone who does a similar task for 4 hours each day will get into the habbit of reactionary thinking because of the repetative nature of their daily tasks. those of us with more varied daily activities (regardles off what that activity is) have to think more proactively because we're likely to be faced with different situations.

    I don't see the link to ADD there, it's just the human brain adapting to the environment it is in

  23. mmiied


    form 20+ years exprance at computer games I can tell you that it has made me very good at perorming stange tasks like that one cos a lot of games are based on this sort of thing

    when I was asked to do a task that said "state the color these words are writen in" for example I defocused my eyes so I could not read the word and got fantastic times for it

  24. Graham Marsden

    Stroop test...

    I've done online versions of this test and I find I do best by simply "defocussing" so that I only really notice the colour, rather than the word that appears.

    So I'm actually concentrating *less* to do better!

  25. mmiied

    @grahm marsden

    in fact the person who would probley do best at that test would be an illitrate as they would have no word distraction

  26. James Hughes 1

    I just looked up the symptoms of ADHD

    And I think I must have it. Inability to concentrate (except on interesting stuff), easily distracted, bored easily, have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new, daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly, have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others.

    Well, sounds like my average day at work that does. The last two or three are what you get when you have children.

  27. Stevie


    Video gaming is entirely inconsistent with ADD.

    One simply cannot both play a video game and at the same time play Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, even with a Nintendo DS or a PSP. You have to pay attention or the other players steal your magic items.

  28. James O'Brien

    Love it

    BEST. TITLE. EVER!!! Also loved the by-l.....oh shineys

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Too much text. I'm not gonna read

  30. John 137


    Oh god they're saying that performing the same action daily for years on end may have some result on the brain, but I *like* that activity! Argle bargle "fail" yarble "research" mrar rabble "Yanks" guhh PERSONAL ANECDOTES!

    By god, they've been completely refuted! Way to go, commentards!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ADD? Does it even exist??

    Choice: sit in class being forced to learn some rubbish or play computer games.

    For young boys and teenagers, which is most likely to have the highest concentration and have the longest attention span? Which are they most likely to enjoy ?

    Gee.....these researchers get paid for spewing crap.

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