Children with ADHD Show Deficits in many areas, including Motor Timing and Beat Perception.
A meta-analysis of timing functions in ADHD, including 11 fMRI studies of time discrimination, time estimation, motor timing and temporal discounting (temporal foresight), showed consistently reduced activation in 150 ADHD patients relative to 145 healthy controls in left IFC, left inferior parietal lobe and right lateral cerebellum (Hart et al., 2012), all key regions of timing functions (Wiener et al., 2010; see Figure 1E), Rubia 2018.
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. This deficit is linked to poor reading, attention, and language skills.
Research demonstrates 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,
The Puyjarinet study found a deficit 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.
Slater and Tate (2018), suggest that further investigation of the basis of rhythm and timing deficits could ultimately help to form a more integrated view of the etiologies of ADHD, bridging the gap between genetic factors (e.g., variation in dopaminergic signaling), neural dynamics and the development of cortical networks, and the behavioral control of cognition and movement. They highlighted that the same neural systems are strengthened in expert musicians, suggesting the potential for neuroplasticity to have remediating effects. This novel, interdisciplinary approach could inform therapeutic strategies, harnessing the rewarding properties of music to strengthen coordination within the brain.
Keeping the Beat: A Large Sample Study of Bouncing and Clapping to Music, Tranchant et al., 2016.
What makes a rhythm complex? The influence of musical training and accent type on beat perception, Bouwer et al., 2018.
Rhythm production at school entry as a predictor of poor reading and spelling at the end of first grade, Lundetrae & Thompson, 2018.
Does music training enhance literacy skills? A Meta-Analysis, Gordon et al., 2015.
Perspectives on the rhythm–grammar link and its implications for typical and atypical language development, Gordon et al., 2015.
Neural bases of individual differences in beat perception, Grahn & McAuley, 2009.
The Evolution of Rhythm Cognition: Timing in Music and Speech, Ravignani et al., 2017.
A longitudinal study on gross motor development in children with learning disorders, Westendorp et al., 2014.