Hyperfocus symptom and internet addiction in individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder trait

Front Psychiatry. 2023 Mar 16:14:1127777. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2023.1127777. eCollection 2023.


Background: Hyperfocus symptom is the intense concentration on a certain object. It is a common but often overlooked symptom in those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Hyperfocus disrupts attention control and results in a focus on inappropriate behaviors. It allows individuals to focus on internet use and make them use internet excessively. This excessive internet use can lead to an addiction. This study investigated the status of IA and hyperfocus, the mediation effect of hyperfocus in relation to IA, and the relationship between ADHD subtypes and hyperfocus in those with ADHD symptoms.

Methods: This web-based cross-sectional study included 3,500 Japanese adults who completed internet-based questionnaires, which included the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS), Internet Addiction Test (IAT), and Hyperfocus Scale (HFS) to assess ADHD symptoms, internet dependence, and hyperfocus symptoms, respectively. The mediating role of HFS in the relationship between ASRS and IAT was assessed by mediation analysis. To analyze the relationship between hyperfocus symptoms and ADHD subtypes, we compared the correlation of HFS with the Inattention and Hyperactive Scores of ASRS.

Results: ADHD traits were associated with higher IAT scores (p < 0.001) and higher HFS scores (p < 0.001). Mediation analysis and bootstrap testing showed that HFS significantly mediated the association between ASRS and IAT. Analyses of ADHD subtypes demonstrated that HFS was significantly correlated with the Inattention (R = 0.597, p < 0.001) and Hyperactive (R = 0.523, p < 0.001) Scores. The correlation between HFS and the Inattention Score was significantly higher than that between HFS and the Hyperactive Score (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that hyperfocus may play an important role in addictive behavior in ADHD as a manifestation of attentional control malfunction.

Keywords: ADHD; hyperfocus; internet addiction; mediation analysis; questionnaire study; web-based study.

Grants and funding

We obtained financial support from AMED Grant No. 190dm0307105, Intramural Research Grant (2–7) for Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders of NCNP and Moonshot R&D (JPMJMS2295-11) of the Japan Science and Technology Agency.