Were Hyperactive Hunter-Gatherers Better Adapted Than Their Peers? ADHD and Evolution

Written by Brian Krans
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on November 25, 2012

A study conducted at Northwestern University in 2008 examined two tribal groups in Kenya. One of the tribes was still nomadic, while the other had settled into villages. The researchers were able to identify members of the tribes who displayed ADHD traits. [Eisenberg, 2011]

Specifically, they examined the DRD4 7R, a genetic variant that researches say is linked to novelty-seeking, greater food and drug cravings, and ADHD symptoms.

Research showed that members of the nomadic tribe with ADHD—those who still had to hunt for their food—were better nourished than those without ADHD. Also, those with the same genetic variant in the settled village had more difficultly in the classroom, a major indicator of ADHD in civilized society.

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