Exercising the Mind to Treat Attention Deficits
By Daniel Goleman, New York Times, May 12, 2014
This article published in the New York Times earlier this month has gotten a lot of attention from my patients and colleagues. I have provided a few quotes below but you can find the full article here.
“Poor planning, wandering attention and trouble inhibiting impulses all signify lapses in cognitive control. Now a growing stream of research suggests that strengthening this mental muscle, usually with exercises in so-called mindfulness, may help children and adults cope with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder”
“According to a recent report in Clinical Neurophysiology, adults with A.D.D. were shown to benefit from mindfulness training combined with cognitive therapy; their improvements in mental performance were comparable to those achieved by subjects taking medications.”
“Mindfulness seems to flex the brain circuitry for sustaining attention, an indicator of cognitive control, according to research by Wendy Hasenkamp and Lawrence Barsalou at Emory University.”
But if medications also work, why bother with mindfulness?
“In a large study published last year in The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers reported that while most young people with A.D.H.D. benefit from medications in the first year, these effects generally wane by the third year, if not sooner.
‘There are no long-term, lasting benefits from taking A.D.H.D. medications,’ said James M. Swanson, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, and an author of the study. ‘But mindfulness seems to be training the same areas of the brain that have reduced activity in A.D.H.D.'”