Involuntary Eye Movement a Foolproof Indication for ADHD Diagnosis

TAU researchers develop diagnostic tool for the most commonly misdiagnosed disorder

August 13, 2014

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed — and misdiagnosed — behavioral disorder in children in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, there are currently no reliable physiological markers to diagnose ADHD. Doctors generally diagnose the disorder by recording a medical and social history of the patient and the family, discussing possible symptoms and observing the patient's behavior. But an incorrect evaluation can lead to overmedication with Ritalin (methylphenidate), which has parents everywhere concerned.

Now a new study from Tel Aviv University researchers may provide the objective tool medical professionals need to accurately diagnose ADHD. According to the research, published in Vision Research, involuntary eye movements accurately reflect the presence of ADHD, as well as the benefits of medical stimulants that are used to treat the disorder.

Keeping an eye on the eyes

Dr. Moshe Fried, Dr. Anna Sterkin, and Prof. Uri Polat of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Tamara Wygnanski-Jaffe, Dr. Eteri Tsitsiashvili, Dr. Tamir Epstein of the Goldschleger Eye Research Institute at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, and Dr. Yoram S. Bonneh of the University of Haifa used an eye-tracking system to monitor the involuntary eye movements of two groups of 22 adults taking an ADHD diagnostic computer test called the Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA). The exercise, which lasted 22 minutes, was repeated twice by each participant. The first group of participants, diagnosed with ADHD, initially took the test un-medicated and then took it again under the influence of methylphenidate. A second group, not diagnosed with ADHD, constituted the control group.

"We had two objectives going into this research," said Dr. Fried, who as an adult was himself diagnosed with ADHD. "The first was to provide a new diagnostic tool for ADHD, and the second was to test whether ADHD medication really works — and we found that it does. There was a significant difference between the two groups, and between the two sets of tests taken by ADHD participants un-medicated and later medicated."

Foolproof, affordable, and accessible diagnosis

The researchers found a direct correlation between ADHD and the inability to suppress eye movement in the anticipation of visual stimuli. The research also reflected improved performance by participants taking methylphenidate, which normalized the suppression of involuntary eye movements to the average level of the control group.

"This test is affordable and accessible, rendering it a practical and foolproof tool for medical professionals," said Dr. Fried. "With other tests, you can slip up, make 'mistakes' — intentionally or not. But our test cannot be fooled. Eye movements tracked in this test are involuntary, so they constitute a sound physiological marker of ADHD.

"Our study also reflected that methylphenidate does work. It is certainly not a placebo, as some have suggested."

The researchers are currently conducting more extensive trials on larger control groups to further explore applications of the test.


TAU in the Media

On Nakba Day, Pope Francis Gives Palestinians a Symbolic Victory
In Newsweek, former TAU president and Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Prof. Itamar Rabinovich comments on the Pope's meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
Friday, May 15, 2015

Israeli Film School Graduates to Top of Class
Variety reports on Steve Tisch's $10 million donation to TAU's School of Film and Television.
Monday, April 28, 2015

Breakfast Effects
The Wall Street Journal reports on diabetes research by TAU Prof. Daniela Jacubowicz.
Monday, March 30, 2015

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TAU's Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich discusses the results of the Israeli elections on PBS Newshour.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Teacher Bias May Help Discourage Girls from Math, Study Finds
NBC's Today Show interviews TAU's Dr. Edith Sand about her research on bias in teaching math and science to young girls.
Monday, March 9, 2015

Producer Steve Tisch Donates $10 Million to Tel Aviv University Film School
Show business trade journal Variety reports on Steve Tisch's transformative gift.
Thursday, March 5, 2015

How Elementary School Teachers Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science
The New York Times reports on TAU research into teachers' unconscious prejudices in the classroom.
Friday, February 6, 2015

Skull Fossil Offers New Clues on Human Journey From Africa
John Noble Wilford reports on a major find by TAU archaeologists in the New York Times.
Thursday, January 29, 2015

Amid the Clatter of Bats, a Call to Feed
The New York Times profiles the work of TAU researcher Prof. Yossi Yovel.
Monday, January 19, 2015

Lessons From an Ancient Time When Recyclers Walked the Earth
The New York Times interviews TAU archaeologist Prof. Ran Barkai about prehistoric recycling.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Is Turkey the Key to Defeating the Islamic State?
TAU's Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich discusses Turkey and ISIS on Bloomberg TV.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The "Islamic State": A Different Ball Game
TAU's Prof. Uzi Rabi writes in The Huffington Post about the new reality in the Middle East.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

TAU Makes the Grade in World University Rankings
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings — the gold standard — includes Tel Aviv University in the "Top 200" universities in the world, the only Israeli university to appear there, Ha'aretz reports.
Thursday, October 2, 2014

How Movies Make Us Empathise with Strangers
TAU neuroscientist Talma Hendler talks about empathy and the movies with Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky in Wired.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Israel Should Have Drawn its Red Line with Hamas Far Sooner
Read an op-ed in Haaretz by Dr. Steven Klein, adjunct professor in TAU's International program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation.
Monday, September 1, 2014

TAU Among Top 10 Universities for Venture Capital-Backed Entrepreneurs
TAU joins Stanford, UC Berkeley, and MIT on PitchBook's global VC database list.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How Do You Know Where Lightning Will Strike?
Listen to an interview with TAU's Prof. Colin Price on TLV1 Radio.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

To Deter Hamas: Expect the Unexpected
TAU's Uzi Rabi and Dr. Harel Chorev provide insight in The Huffington Post.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On Border with Gaza, San Francisco Surgeon Lends His Expertise
The J: The Jewish News Weekly reports on Dr. Nikolaj Wolfson, a member of AFTAU's Board of Directors, as he travels to Israel in the midst of war.
Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Creativity Pill
Prof. Rivka Inzelberg's study on Parkinson's disease and creativity featured in The Atlantic.
Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Apps — and Airplane Blankets — That Track Our Lives
Mental health smartphone app developed by TAU's Dr. Uri Nevo featured in the New York Times.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Prof. Uzi Rabi on Huffington Post Live
Just broadcast live! Watch Prof. Uzi Rabi's interview on HuffPost Live's WorldBrief with Ahmed Shikab-Eldin. Definitely worth a look.
Friday, May 2, 2014

Amb. Itamar Rabinovich on Huffington Post Live
Former TAU president discusses Mideast peace talks and other issues on WorldBrief.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014


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