The repercussions of ADHD are also known to occur in university learning[1]; university students with ADHD, in fact, have lower average marks and less likely to complete their academic path[3]. One of the possible causes of this could lie in poor ability to self-regulate one's learning behavior[2].
A particularly useful learning strategy is to repeated recovery of the information studied, which would be associated with a quantity of concepts consolidated in long-term memory higher than would occur with study sessions or repeated readings of the same topic[4]. Being subjected to moments of verification or testing yourself on what has been studied (for example, with flashcards) would enhance both the mnemonic aspects and the metacognitive awareness with respect to what has been learned.

Given the effects of the study strategy just mentioned and the difficulties related to executive functions frequently present in people with ADHD, Knouse and colleagues[2] wanted to investigate whether people with ADHD were able to benefit from repeated information retrieval to consolidate learning into memory.


Scholars used a sample of people consisting of 58 college students with ADHD and 112 college students without ADHD. The whole sample was divided into two groups:

  • A group was free to learn the definitions of the keywords in the way he thought best.
  • The other group instead had to continue as long as it was unable to correctly repeat each definition three times.

All the people in the sample were then tested a week later to measure the level of learning achieved.


Contrary to expectations, in neither group there were differences between students with ADHD and without ADHD. Practically, students with ADHD were able to learn like the others, either independently managing their own learning strategies, or using a strategy imposed by others (re-enactment corrected three times of the same concept).

However, two important aspects should be noted:

The first is that learning with the criterion of achieving three correct re-enactments of the same definition was more effective than studying independently (but we will talk about this in another article).

The second important element concerns the limits of this research. Participants with ADHD in this study may not be truly representative since they are only university students. It is possible that there is a selection bias and that, having included only university students in the sample, the selected ADHDs were on average highly functional. Partial confirmation of this problem is given by the vocabulary test used to estimate the verbal IQ.
The interpretation of these results should therefore be limited to University students Americans, placing extreme caution in extending it to the entire population of adults with ADHD.

Two words to explain the difference between the vaccine (which generally requires only one administration or periodic administrations, such as every XNUMX years (as with the hepatitis B vaccine) and the antiviral drug (such as the cocktail for HIV-positive patients, who ingest molecules through daily pills that attack parts of the virus, to directly destroy it). The vaccine consists of the administration of molecules that mimick parts of the virus without being infectious, so that our immune system can develop a memory to recognize those parts (that particular type of antigen) when the virus comes back on the doorstep...this memory in some cases lasts all the life, in other cases (like hepatitis B) a decade or so. Once this immune memory has been developed in our body, the pathogen will have to deal with an extremely powerful arsenal of anti-viral mechanisms (orchestrated by our immune cells) that will kill it in no time (in fact, after we get vaccinated, if we get the flu, we get rid of it without even realizing it...our (memory) immune cells know what to do at that point). Another way to develop this memory is by letting ourselves to be infected — as we've done with lots of infections, with low mortality and low morbidity. The antiviral drug is a molecule that acts against the pathogen too, but it does so on its own — the basic problem of an antiviral is that it doesn't last forever, because everything we eat (the pills) is excreted from our body, in a few hours or few days — but there are also molecules that can float, once you put them into the circle, for quite a few days ...(or techniques that modern pharmacology has been studying for a decade or so, aimed to transform molecules with the objective of extending their permanence in the tissues after being administered, see above: nanotechnology therapy). Bibliography

  1. DuPaul, GJ, Weyandt, LL, O'Dell, SM, & Varejao, M. (2009). College students with ADHD: Current status and future directions. Journal of attention disorders, 13(3), 234-250.
  2. Knouse, LE, Rawson, KA, & Dunlosky, J. (2020). How much do college students with ADHD benefit from retrieval practice when learning key-term definitions ?. Learning and Instruction, 68, 101330.
  3. Nugent, K., & Smart, W. (2014). Attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder in postsecondary students. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 10, 1781.
  4. Rowland, CA (2014). The effect of testing versus restudy on retention: a meta-analytic review of the testing effect. Psychological Bulletin, 140(6), 1432.

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