The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) has deeply engaged in basic research, and it has promoted the application of bran imaging equipment (MRI, NEG) to mental health research in order to provide new insight to the mysteries of bran. By the support of MOST, assistant professor Chia-Fen Hsu (Graduate Institute of Behavioral Science, Chang Gung University) conducted a brain imaging research project to explore the relationships between brain function and behavior in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The research findings provide reference for clinical treatment of ADHD.
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. Children with ADHD are characterized by difficulty focusing, managing energy levels and controlling impulses. ADHD-related behaviors can continue into adolescence and adulthood, affecting family functioning, academic performance and work achievement. Feeling bored and unwilling to wait are common complaints of children, but ADHD makes these problems more unbearable. Boredom has been viewed as a type of attention failure, but previous research had seldom investigated the experience of boredom in children with ADHD. Assistant professor Hsu conducted the research project to explore feeling of boredom, delay aversion and inattention in children with ADHD. The findings may enhance understanding of psychopathy in ADHD, and facilitate the development of coping strategies in family, educational and medical settings for children with ADHD.
Assistant professor Hsu dedicates to research and clinical services to improve mental health and wellbeing of individuals with neurodevelopmental conditions. Her research expertise particularly focuses on cognitive, emotional and brain deficits in children with ADHD. She was awarded the Kramer-Pollnow Young Investigator Award at 2016 International conference of European Network for Hyperkinetic Disorders (EUNETHYDIS). In 2017, she was selected as the Young Taiwaner by Health Promotion Administration, Ministry of Health and Welfare to attend the European Health Forum Gastein in Austria and used this experience to help the organization of Global Health Forum in Taiwan. Assistant professor Hsu is the leader of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory. She is a licensed clinical psychologist. Over the years she has led graduate students in clinical psychology program to investigate neuropsychological function of children, adolescents and adults with ADHD. The research team developed measures of boredom and delay aversion. They investigated the association between behavior and brain using questionnaires, psychological tests, electroencephalogram (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Assistant professor Hsu’s research team investigated boredom proneness, delay aversion and state of boredom after completing a task required sustained attention between children with and without ADHD. They found that there were moderate to strong correlations among boredom proneness, delay aversion and ADHD symptom severity. Boredom proneness affected delay aversion, which in turn affected ADHD-related behaviors. Moreover, children with ADHD reported a higher level of boredom proneness. They felt more bored than typical developing children after completing the task required sustained attention. The more attention errors they made, the more boring they were. In addition, boredom was involved in the brain’s default mode network (DMN). The DMM was active during mind wandering. When children with ADHD were waiting or performing an attention task, the neural activities of DMN were not effectively attenuated, which were related to disrupted behaviors.
The related findings were published in Psychiatry Research, 2020, 286:112861. Based on theoretical and research findings, Assistant professor Hsu provided parenting suggestions. Scolding and physical punishment cannot fully solve ADHD-related problems. Children with ADHD need their parents to be patient and provide clear rules to improve their behaviors. Boredom and attention are two-sided swords. For example, when kids feel bored with homework, their attention become poor. On the other hand, kids with poor attention get bored with homework easily. What can we do when our children feel bored? The solution of coping with boredom is to provide children something interesting and can be engaged mental effort in, rather than stuffing them with more things to do. Eliminating boredom can improve attention performance.