The Effects of Visual Stimulation on the Mathematics Performance of Children with Attention Deficit Disorder/hyperactivity Disorder

By Lee, David L.; Zentall, Sydney S. | Behavioral Disorders, May 2002 | Go to article overview

The Effects of Visual Stimulation on the Mathematics Performance of Children with Attention Deficit Disorder/hyperactivity Disorder


Lee, David L., Zentall, Sydney S., Behavioral Disorders


ABSTRACT Two studies evaluated the effects of within-task and competing visual stimulation on the mathematics performance and behavior of 17 children, ages 8 to 14, with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In the first study, students with ADHD were exposed to both high and low within-task stimulation during a simple mathematics task. Results showed that participants completed more problems, completed more problems correctly, and were less active in the high within-task stimulation condition. In the second study, participants were exposed to both high and low levels of competing stimulation during the same high within-task stimulation condition that resulted in better performance in the first study. Results showed that participants completed fewer problems in the high-competing stimulation condition than in the low. The results of these studies provided additional support for a more contextual view of ADHD that more fully accounts for within-task and competing stimulation effects.

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often demonstrate significant educational (Zentall, 1993) and behavioral deficits (Barkley, DuPaul, & McMurray, 1990). Estimates of the prevalence of ADHD suggest that 3% to 7% of school-aged children have the disorder, which is characterized by excessive levels of motor activity, impulsivity, inattention, and an inclination to seek immediate reinforcement (Barkley, 1998; Douglas, 1985). Psychoeducational research in ADHD has generally been conducted under one of two stimulation-based paradigms.

Two Models of ADHD Research

Early researchers had hypothesized that hyperactivity was a result of excess environmental stimulation (Cruickshank, Bentzen, Ratzenburg, & Tannhauser, 1961; Strauss & Lehtinen, 1947). This stimulus "overflow" or overarousal model proposed that excessive behavior (i.e., hyperactivity) occurred when stimulus input surpassed processing capacity. After this critical threshold had been surpassed, behavior increased as a linear function of stimulation. This model suggested that children with ADHD have a decreased level of processing capacity and are unable to dampen stimulation as well as their peers. Although it is still widely accepted by many applied professionals, subsequent research has failed to support overarousal as a tenable theory of ADHD (for review see Zentall & Zentall, 1983).

The Optimal Stimulation Model

Based on the optimal stimulation theory (e.g., Leuba, 1955), a second theory posits that hyperactivity results from decreased levels of effective environmental stimulation (Zentall, 1975). According to the optimal stimulation theory, organisms work to maintain optimal levels of stimulation through instrumental activity, much like the body works to maintain homeostasis by regulating levels of heat, food, and water. Zentall suggests that individuals with ADHD require more stimulation and novelty than so-called "normal" individuals to achieve and maintain an optimal level of arousal in a given context. The behavior of children with ADHD can be "normalized" (a) by allowing the child to self-generate stimulation (e.g., through activity, attention directed toward novelty); (b) through the use of stimulant medication, which reduces the need for the child to self-generate stimulation; or (c) by increasing the level of task or environmental stimulation (Zentall, 1993).

Studies assessing the effects of environmental stimulation on the behavior of individuals with ADHD have shown that color added to the environment or embedded within simple attentional tasks results in decreased activity levels and enhanced performance and persistence (Zentall, 1986; Zentall & Dwyer, 1989; Zentall, Falkenberg, & Smith, 1985; Zentall & Meyer, 1987; Zentall & Zentall, 1976). For example, Zentall (1986) examined the effects of within-task stimulation on an attentional task (i.e., adding color to slides on a visual continuous performance task) and found that the students with ADHD made more errors and were more active than comparisons in the low stimulation condition, whereas no differences between groups were found in the high stimulation condition. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Effects of Visual Stimulation on the Mathematics Performance of Children with Attention Deficit Disorder/hyperactivity Disorder
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.