Is ADHD an Advantage for Nomadic Tribesmen in Kenya?

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A new study from Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences suggests that the version of a gene associated with ADHD may actually prove beneficial for certain populations.

The study looked at the body mass index (BMI) and height of males from a tribe called Ariaal in northern Kenya. Some members of this tribe continue to live their traditional nomadic lifestyle, while others have recently settled and started to grow crops.

It turns out that those who are living the nomadic lifestyle with the genetic variant associated with ADHD fared much better than the settled tribesmen who also had the variant. According to Dan Eisenberg, lead author on the study, this suggests that it's "possible that, in a nomadic setting, a boy with this allele might be able to more effectively defend livestock against raiders or locate food and water sources, but that the same tendencies might not be as beneficial in settled pursuits such as focusing in school, farming or selling goods.”

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