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David Baxter

Mar 26, 2004
ADHD & the Interest-Based Nervous System
by Janice Rodden, ADDitude
February 14, 2018

Your ADHD brain chemistry is a unique and special creation that regulates attention and emotions in different ways than the nervous system in those without the condition.

In this video, learn why you can’t be like neurotypicals, and why you shouldn’t try to be.

ADHD & the Interest-Based Nervous System
Attention deficit is a misnomer.

ADHD doesn’t deplete attention. It scatters attention unevenly, and activates focus only under certain circumstances.

That’s because the ADHD nervous system is interest-based, rather than importance- or priority-based.

People with ADHD often say:

  • “When I get in the zone, I can accomplish anything.”
  • “I’ll blast through it once I hit a groove”

What they are describing is ADHD hyperfocus – intense concentration on a particular task, usually one of great personal interest.

Hyperfocus is not like a faucet you turn on at will.

This state of undivided attention is activated only by a fleeting sense of:

  • Interest
  • Competition
  • Novelty
  • Urgency

When these conditions are met, people with ADHD can focus — sometimes.

Parents and loved ones may interpret spotty, inconsistent focus as a sign of defiance or selfishness.

It is not.

“People with ADHD need to learn to tap into the meaning, importance, or worth of the task at hand…The key to putting the meaning back in motivation is to let go of the way it works for everybody else.” ~ Laurie Dupar, PMHNP, RN, PCC

More information

ADHD Brain: Unraveling Secrets of Your ADD Nervous System

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