Clinical Implications of the Perception of Time in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Review
Ptacek R, Weissenberger S, Braaten E, Klicperova-Baker M, Goetz M, Raboch J, Vnukova M, Stefano GB.
Med Sci Monit. 2019 May 26;25:3918-3924.
Commentary* by Dr. Margaret Weiss: We often evaluate deficits of time management when looking at ADHD including being late, feeling restless while waiting (it feels like forever), misjudging the time needed to do a task and so on. Some of these deficits may be better explained as a deficit in time perception and time awareness rather than in time management.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect many areas of the daily life of individuals and is associated with poor health outcomes and with debilitating deficits in executive function. Recently, increasing numbers of research studies have begun to investigate the associations between neural and behavioral manifestations of ADHD.
This review summarizes recent research on the perception of time in ADHD and proposes that this symptom is a possible diagnostic characteristic. Controlled studies on time perception have compared individuals with ADHD with typically developing controls (TDCs) and have used methods that include the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI).
Practical approaches to time perception and its evaluation have shown that individuals with ADHD have difficulties in time estimation and discrimination activities as well as having the feeling that time is passing by without them being able to complete tasks accurately and well. Although ADHD has been associated with neurologic abnormalities in the mesolimbic and dopaminergic systems, recent studies have found that when individuals with ADHD are treated medically, their perception of time tends to normalize.
The relationship between ADHD and the perception of time requires greater attention. Further studies on time perception in ADHD with other abnormalities, including executive function, might be approaches that refine the classification and diagnosis of ADHD and should include studies on its varied presentation in different age groups.
* Abstracts are selected for their clinical relevance by Dr. Margaret Weiss, Director of Clinical Research, Child Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard University. Her commentary reflects her own opinion, is not approved, or necessarily representative, of the opinion of the CADDRA board.