ADHD News & Research

Study: Time Perception Deficits More Prevalent Among Children with ADHD

Children with ADHD demonstrate a less accurate and precise perception of time, overestimate time intervals, and sense time passing more slowly than do their non-ADHD counterparts, according to a new study.

December 15, 2020

Time perception among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) is less accurate and less precise compared to children without ADHD, according to a new Journal of Attention Disorders study1, which states that, “Time perception refers to an individual’s subjective experience of event durations and the passage of time.” Previous research has shown that children with ADHD show lower accuracy in time-perception tasks, but results had been inconsistent.

The present meta-analysis drew 1,620 participants with ADHD (83% male) and 1,249 controls (57% male) from 27 studies that compared time-perception impairment among children and adolescents with and without ADHD.

Participants with ADHD demonstrated less accurate and precise perception of time, overestimated time intervals, and sensed time passing more slowly than did their non-ADHD counterparts. As children with ADHD aged, researchers found their time-perception abilities moved closer and closer to those of their non-ADHD counterparts. The male ratios in both groups significantly affected comparative time perception, though “the difference in time perception abilities did not significantly depend on task paradigm or stimulus modality.”

In the ADHD group, a higher number of male participants were associated with overestimation of time, compared to the control group. This might mean that males are more likely than females to overestimate time, or that ADHD has a larger impact on time perception in males than it does in females.

These findings led researchers to conclude that time perception may be considered an important neuropsychological manifestation of ADHD, separate from executive dysfunction and delay aversion. Measures of time perception as markers of timing deficits in ADHD could be included in clinical assessment to provide a more comprehensive profile of the individual’s functioning.

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1Zheng Q, Wang X, Chiu KY, Shum KK. Time Perception Deficits in Children and Adolescents with ADHD: A Meta-analysis. Journal of Attention Disorders. December 2020. 10.1177/1087054720978557