Children and adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder cannot move to the beat

Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 14;7(1):11550. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-11295-w.


Children and adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) fail in simple tasks like telling whether two sounds have different durations, or in reproducing single durations. The deficit is linked to poor reading, attention, and language skills. Here we demonstrate that these timing distortions emerge also when tracking the beat of rhythmic sounds in perceptual and sensorimotor tasks. This contrasts with the common observation that durations are better perceived and produced when embedded in rhythmic stimuli. Children and adults with ADHD struggled when moving to the beat of rhythmic sounds, and when detecting deviations from the beat. Our findings point to failure in generating an internal beat in ADHD while listening to rhythmic sounds, a function typically associated with the basal ganglia. Rhythm-based interventions aimed at reinstating or compensating this malfunctioning circuitry may be particularly valuable in ADHD, as already shown for other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as dyslexia and Specific Language Impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Movement*