Summary of the chapter

Is hyperactivity a modern disease?

Clara I. Gómez-Sánchez

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most frequent disorders in childhood with a worldwide prevalence of 7% in children. This disease is characterized by a lack of attention, excessive motor activity and impulsivity. As a consequence of these symptoms, children have a higher risk of school failure and social problems. It is considered that ADHD is a complex disorder caused by the combined action of polymorphic variants of several genes with less effect, as well as the action of environmental effects, all this conferring a susceptibility to suffer the disorder. There is scientific evidence that ADHD has an evolutionary origin and one evidence is reflected in a polymorphic variant of the DRD4 gene associated with hyperactive behaviors that seek novelty and risk.

These features could have been selected in times of scarcity of resources or changing environments, which would explain their high prevalence in the population. It has been shown that in today's society hyperactive behavior could also confer an advantage in creative environments or if quick answers are required. Therefore, the ecological and social context in which we find ourselves plays a fundamental role in determining the traits that are considered beneficial or harmful at the population level.