Attention Blink and ADHD



People who have ADHD are more likely to experience difficulties with the attention blink test.  Due to their difficulty to stare at a fixed space and attention deficit they miss more letter sequences. 



To put this into perspective, this can be applied to the real world for any given person in circumstances such as if a driver in front of you is swerving off the road, you will briefly become focused on that catastrophe (attention blink) in the making and lose sight of the specific details of the traffic around you in that moment.  I can only imagine how difficult it may be for a student in a classroom that is not on ADHD medication and is trying to pay attention to a lecture but sees phones lighting up with notifications or hears students talking outside in the hallway.

As someone who has ADHD (not on medication) this makes sense to me.  When doing the attention blink test on the Zaps program used in my Cognitive Psychology class there was a continuous stream of 80 different tests.  I found myself fidgeting in my seat and having to take breaks.  It made me feel irritable and impatient and I had a hard time finding the first letter in the sequence for the first few trials.  Eventually I sort of picked it up but I struggled finding a second letter in the sequence.



8 thoughts on “Attention Blink and ADHD

  1. Sarah

    So do you think that there is anyway that a person with ADHD can train himself or herself, like you did with the attention blink test on zaps. What I mean is that eventually you saw the first letter in the sequence but for the first few trials you couldn’t. Also if you kept going and going maybe you would be able to start to see the first and the second letters in the trials. Kind of like training your brain to do something than what it was originally doing. Though it made you feel irritable and restless you could just keep pushing through to train yourself, and what if people could always do this and try to get people off of medications or at least start with the training then go into the medications if it still wasn’t possible to function. The only reason I bring this up is I had a friend growing up on ADHD medication that said they felt it ruined their childhood. Either way your post is pretty interesting, good job.

    1. awobken Post author

      I have been off ADHD medication for years, since 2012, because I am stubborn and hate medication. I got by through community college alright. I struggle with math and science the most. When that sort of structure comes out it takes 50 times for effort to stay focused. I have a bad habit of multitasking to feel productive. Such as I like to keep messages going with my friends so I have something to look forward to and keep up with, makes me feel productive. While in class or at work. When I do my homework I have music playing, sometimes I get the impulse to browse Amazon for something, then I think of a story idea (I am striving to be a writer), then I get the urge to find more music to listen to, then I make business plans for my yoga business, and then I get back to my essay that I ACTUALLY need to write for school. I can get by with that sort of nonsense when in English classes, because the topic itself comes naturally to me, but that does not make it any easier. The time it takes for me to do things is long. Its chaotic and with classes such as Cognitive Psych and Intro to Stats for Psych it has really NOT worked for me. Only recently have I considered getting back on my Adderall because I have been not as indulged in college as I want to be mentally despite the interest being there.

  2. jesseboles

    I was also wondering if an individual with ADHD would be able to train themselves. Do you think it is possible? I was also going to mention that I was getting irritable in my seat trying to focus on the screen during the Zaps, and I do not even have ADHD. I cannot image how restless one must get who does have ADHD.

  3. Kara

    I also (like the commenters above) wonder if it might be possible to train yourself. I think it would be interesting to look at. I also have ADHD and am not on meds. I notice that I do much better with caffeine, so that’s how I treat myself. The ZAPS made me extremely frustrated and I honestly felt so stupid. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one who really struggled with it!

    1. awobken Post author

      Caffeine is a common replacement that people with ADHD tend to use when off medication. I know a lot of friends who abuse it, one friend drinks 4 mountain dew kick-starts a day. It’s not a good substitute, especially since it addresses different chemicals. Increased caffeine levels may indirectly help a person but it does not directly treat the issue. When I drink a lot of caffeine I can stay more alert but it makes me very jumpy from subject to subject. It is just not the same.

  4. sjohns25

    I really like how you compared it the Zaps we did I know I have a very hard time with it and I couldn’t imagine someone with ADHD trying to do it. My boyfriend has it and is on medicine but I can see a huge difference when we has taken it compared to not. I notice when I am in class I get very distracted is someone’s phone lights up or is someone enters or leaves the class room I feel like I’m hearing the lecture but not really focusing on it at that time. I’m really glad you posted this it was really interesting to read and compare to my life and individuals I know.

  5. ewhitese

    My older sister started on ADHD medication during middle school and took it until she finished college. She said that her biggest problem was concentrating when there were lots of side conversations in class. She only took it while she was in school, so she never took it on weekends or throughout the summer as a way of giving her body a natural break. However, when she did take it she had to be very careful when she took it. She couldn’t take it too late in the morning because it needed time to kick in but she also couldn’t take it too early or it would wear off before she could finish her homework at night. While there were a lot of hoops to jump through to make the medication work it was worth the trouble for her. I would be interested to see if there was an all natural solution for people with ADHD.

    1. awobken Post author

      I had a similar pattern when I was on ADHD medication. I would not take it on the weekends and during the summer when I was in school. I barely ate and never noticed how little I ate until I chose to get off it and gained like 10 pounds. There really is not a natural solution, there are things that can calm the frantic mind, like meditation and I can get by, but when it comes to certain areas such as math, structured environments, and science I just get lost.

Comments are closed.