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Music May Help Children with ADHD Concentrate Better

Update Date: Nov 06, 2012 08:31 AM EST

A new study has revealed that music may have similar effects as medication for children with ADHD.

The study, led by FIU Center for Children and Families Director William E. Pelham Jr., aimed at examining how distractions such as music and television affect children with ADHD.

According to Pelham, normally there is a notion that distractors only have negative effects. Pelham, however, wanted to investigate what impact music and videos have on the concentration levels of children with ADHD in the classroom.

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Pelham, a world-renowned psychologist and leading authority on ADHD, was surprised with his own findings, Medical Xpress reported.

"If a kid says he can watch TV and focus, it's just not true. With television, we found out what we needed to know," said Pelham, who also serves as chairman of FIU's Department of Psychology.

"But with music we actually discovered, in most cases, it didn't really affect the children."

During the study, Pelham found that while a few children were distracted by music, most of them were not.

"And in some cases," Pelham noted, "we found listening to music helped the kids with ADHD to complete their work. Actually for this subgroup, the effect of music on them was nearly as effective as medication."

For the study, the researcher included both medicated and non-medicated male students with ADHD, as well as a control group of male students who were not diagnosed with ADHD.

The music portion selected for the study featured contemporary music, including rock and rap.

"Rather than just assuming it's better for a child with ADHD to do their homework in complete silence, it may help their concentration to let them listen to music," Pelham said.

"If parents want to know if listening to music will help their child's performance in school, they should try it. In psychology, we have what we call single-subject-design studies. Basically, it's trial and error. If a child's performance improves after trying the music for a period of time, then that's a pretty good indicator that the child falls into the subgroup of children that benefit from music."

Although the study findings indicate that music may be helpful for some, Pelham says that there are more areas to be explored in this same direction.

"There's actually a lot of different directions you could take this research," Pelham said. "But I'm an applied person. I like to find out what I can do to help people."

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