ADHA: Liability or Assett?

Considering the social context of ADHA, could ADHA be an asset or a liability? Dan Eisenberg, PhD, and Benjamin Campbell in their article, The Evolution of ADHD: Social Context Matters, ask a very good question to begin with: Why hasn’t natural section removed the genes that underlie ADHA from the human population? According to Eisenberg and Campbell, we must consider our current and past social environments over our evolutionary history, along with genetic and molecular evidence.  Humans today live in a very different environment than our hunter-gatherer ancestors did over 10,000 year ago. According to the article, learning took place through play, observation, and informal instruction, rather than a structured classroom almost all of us have experienced today.  The genetics of AHDA plays a key role as well. It turns out that the 7R (ADHD associated) allele of the DRD4 gene was created around 45,000 years ago and was selected for, referring back to the article, and therefore likely was evolutionarily advantageous. In a study conducted by Chuansheng Chen and colleagues, according to the article, populations with longer histories of migrating tended to have a greater frequency of DRD4 7R alleles. Later, the article goes on to say, that Chen and his colleagues reported that populations that currently practiced a nomadic lifestyle tend to have higher frequencies of 7r (ADHD-associated) allele than sedentary populations. The article states that they analyzed the DRD4 genotypes of 150 adult Ariaal men, half form nomadic groups and half form the settled groups. The nomadic men who had the 7R ADHD associated allele were less underweight than the nomadic men, but among the settled man, the reverse was true. Clearly, according to the article, something about the nomadic context that allows people with ADHA­ like behaviors to be more successful in an evolutionary sense. The article ends with a question, more or less: Are there areas in our society where children and adults with ADHD might better use their traits? And on a finally last note, children and adults are lead to believe that this is disability, but as it turns out, depending of social context, could be seen as strength.

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