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Eye movement evaluation of Attention Deficit Disorder children

1 May 1997


BACKGROUND: Very little is known about the eye movement performance (EMP) of children with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder {ADHD), a syndrome involving attentional impairments, impulsivity, and typically, motor overactivity. Under achievement in reading and math has been shown to be associated with ADHD. Because ADHD children have been described as having slower response times, more topographical errors, and below age expected results on psychometric tests, we hypothesized that eye movement performance would also be below age expected. Since psycho stimulants reportedly decrease errors, variability, and response time with ADHD children, eye movement performance was sampled with and without their regularly prescribed medication.

METHODS: 36 children age 8 to 13 with normal eyesight and hearing and who were taking psychostimulant medication for ADHD, were recruited for this study. The Developmental Eye Movement Test (DEM), Groffman Visual Tracing Test (GVTT), Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), and the Visagraph Eye Movement Analysis (VEMA), were administered to all subjects. Several months later 18 original subjects were retested after not having taken their respective medication(s) for a minimum of 24 hours.

RESULTS: Mean DEM percentiles for the medicated ADHD group was: 44.18 vertical, 40.06 horizontal, 44.12 ratio, and 49.35 for errors. Mean PPVT percentile was 60.38. Horizontal DEM subtest performance was significantly better for the 18 subjects while non-medicated. VEMA, GVTT, and PPVT performance did not significantly differ between medicated versus nonmedicated conditions for these same subjects.

CONCLUSION: Based upon DEM results, Eye Movement Performance for the medicated ADHD group was slightly below normal. Above average mean PPVT auding vocabulary performance suggests that the reduced EMP was not due to reduced language ability. Surprisingly, horizontal subtest performance on the DEM was significantly better (p < 0.01) while subjects were non-medicated. VEMA performance did not differ between the conditions.


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