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Biol Psychiatry. 2001 Oct 15;50(8):633-5.

Altered performance on an ocular fixation task in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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  • 1Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common psychiatric disorder without validated objective markers. Eye movement studies may be useful in providing objective criteria for characterizing the disorder.


We compared 53 children (29 girls) with ADHD to 44 healthy control children (18 girls) on a 21-sec fixation task. Large saccades (> 4 degrees ) away from the fixation point were analyzed.


Children with ADHD made more large saccades that interrupted fixation than did control children (p =.001). Mean scores of the ADHD group did not change significantly with subsequent retesting on placebo (p =.11); however, there was poor intrasubject correlation (r =.16).


Both boys and girls with ADHD made significantly more intrusive saccades during fixation than did control subjects, possibly reflecting intrinsic neurologic dysfunction; however, a probable "floor effect" obviates conclusions about the reliability of this measure.

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