For an ADHD Group, from self-regulation to procrastination

The Nature of Willpower (aka Self-Regulation aka being the Captain of your Ship)

(I hate the title but appreciate the content):

If you want to get it straight from the source:

If you want a condensed version:

Episodic Future Thinking (to remember intentions and follow through with them):

Research Study on Mechs & Fxns:

Scholarly Explanation:

A quick, accurate explanation:

Understanding, and Responding to, Procrastination

Additional Resources (for all three posts on an ADHD group) (for dopaminizing/reducing friction) (for accommodations, free consults) (for sinking your ships/designing a “no-temptation button”) (ditto)

For an ADHD Group, from environment to self

Changing Self by Changing the Environment (for Fuel & Friction)

Extreme Friction/Designing an (Effective) No-Temptation Button (second part)


Research Study on ADHD and Self-Compassion

Ted Talk on Mindfulness, Shame, Self-Compassion:


Urge Surfing (useful for procrastination and impulsiveness)


Video: Kelly McGonigal’s Google Talk (see last intervention, where people hold their breath)

For an ADHD group, from overview to optimization

Understanding ADHD

Video: What is ADHD?


Cutting-Edge Research Sites on ADHD:

Cool Comics:


Research Study on Media-multitasking and cognitive control across the lifespan:

From the study’s conclusion section:

“Collectively, the findings suggest that higher levels of media-multitasking are associated with better multitasking performance (as assessed in cognitive tests), but only for individuals aged ~ 7 to 29 years.”

“Interestingly, in our data the sign of the relationship between multitasking costs and multi-media use also changes with age from positive in young participants to negative in older participants, suggesting that the demographic composition of participant groups may have significantly influenced the pattern of results observed in previous studies.”




Ted Talk (See First Part on Reward Substitution):

Optimal Brain Functioning, Setting Up for Effective Self-Regulation

Talks at Google (see first intervention)


Video (see the two on exercise):

The Frontier of ADHD Interventions

In my last post, Let the Games Begin?, I shared the recently approved video game prescription for ADHD and this got me thinking about other interventions on the frontier… 

Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation. In the spring of 2019, the FDA approved TNS as a “treatment” for childhood ADHD based on research out of UCLA:  here.

The device the researchers used is called Monarch eTNS. It sends gentle electrical pulses to the trigeminal nerve, which then leads to stimulation of various brain regions.

For a user-friendly description of the research, read this.

Neurofeedback. A 2020 review by scholars from several countries found it useful for children with ADHD: here.

Other research suggests its promising use with adults, too, including research out of MIT (here). Also see here.


Let the Games Begin?

The latest prescription for childhood ADHD is a game. EndeavorRx is its name. Want to see it? Go to

The FDA approved it for children ages 8-12…the first game it has EVER approved as a prescription.

Apparently, the research behind it, out of UCSF, was convincing…

To some….  See some criticisms here.

If you’re interested but outside the age window, you might like to know this: In 2013, Nature published the results of a study on a game called Neuroracer showing that six weeks of training with the game improved older adults’ attention. How old are we talking? 60-85 years of age. For more see

Under 60 and over 12? Well, UCSF’s working on games for various ages and abilities. Find them at

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down I guess.

Brain-Training Game that’s the Real Deal: dual n-back

I have a confession. I love my brain. It’s my most prized possession though it falls short of genius and may fall way, way short of it. Because I value it, I do my best to protect and enhance it.

nerves-2926087_1920So…when I came across this article about a 2017 study at John Hopkins University showing increased working memory and brain activity changes after playing dual n-back, I had to dig deeper (actual study).

I found many studies examining dual n-back that show promising results for working memory (WM), including a 2019 study out of SUNY (The State University of New York) where the researchers conclude, “The findings provide evidence that n-back training enhances distinct neural processes underlying executive aspects of WM.”

If you are as excited about this possibility as I am, here’s a free version of dual n-back.

Stepping over dollars to pick up pennies: What works for optimal cognitive functioning

Hot news out of Israel (Bar Ilan University) and Los Angeles (UCLA):  There’s a way to increase cognitive functioning among children with ADHD that is FREE and leads to BIGGER change than other non-chemical interventions.

What is this magic they speak of? Exercise.

Researchers searched through studies published between 1980 and 2017 on various non-pharmacological interventions for cognitive functions among children with ADHD and narrowed these down to the most trustworthy studies. One of the requirements the researchers had was that the study included an objective measure of cognitive functions.

They examined the effects of several non-pharmacological interventions–neurofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy, cognitive training, and physical exercises (aerobic)–and found all the interventions associated with desired changes. Physical exercise, however, rose to the top with the largest average effect size. Granted 18 studies across four interventions is small; however, the results are consistent with tons of research on the association between exercise and optimal physical, emotional and cognitive functioning.

The study.

So this is what my title is about…we often step over the dollars of optimal functioning and well-being to pick up pennies. The dollars are regular physical exercise (aerobic), enough sleep, and healthy eating. The pennies are the skills, strategies, games we may play with ourselves (fun or otherwise) that we often seek instead. The pennies matter; I’m just suggesting you pick up the dollars first.

My two cents. Or dollars. : )   

What gets us to change?

A 2018 review out of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences asks how we can use what we know about the brain to influence our behavior (copy and paste the link to get to the study).

Three essential factors surfaced.

  1. Reward valuation. Where does your brain land on the pros and cons of a behavior (e.g., eating a donut)? Sometimes where our brains land gets us into trouble (eat it! eat two!). Research suggests that for less immediate rewards, our brains need to see the personal relevance of behaviors. So what if it’s “good” to exercise, what’s it matter to me and mine? Messages about such things as exercise and healthy eating carry more weight with us when we connect them to our values. Research shows that when people reflect on core values–what deep down really matters to them–and then get messages about healthy behaviors, they will more often practice them than people who receive the same messages without reflecting on their values.
  2. Delay discounting. Delay discounting refers to our tendency to discount the value of a reward the longer we have to wait for it. So we often choose smaller rewards with immediate gratification over bigger ones with delayed gratification. Eclairs over exercise. Research suggests a solution (if you want one): episodic future thinking (EFT). EFT is the capacity to imagine or simulate your future experiences. It works like this: You have a talk coming up tomorrow morning, and you intended to be well-rested for it. But you are tempted to watch another episode on Netflix tonight. You give EFT a try: You imagine you skip the show for sleep. And then imagine how the next morning plays out. You imagine it as vividly as possible, how you’re feeling, what you see from your audience. You can also imagine sacrificing sleep for the show and imagine how your morning plays out, as vividly as possible. EFT increases the chances we will remember our intentions and then act on them.
  3. Self-regulation, the capacity to direct different parts of ourselves (thoughts, urges, cravings, emotions, actions) toward achieving future-oriented goals. In the article, one means of increasing self-regulation that the authors discuss is physical exercise. In, you can find several ways to increase self-regulation, with or without ADHD.

There you have it. Want to change a behavior? Play with reward valuation, delay discounting, and self-regulation. See what you notice. Is the review out of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences right?

ADHD and Attentional Interference from Competing Brain Networks

As prior research out of MIT (Go, Go, Go and Slow, Slow, Slow?), research out of Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) recently examined the coordination between two brain networks:  the task positive network(s) and the default mode network. These networks have largely opposite functions. In the first–task positive network(s)–there’s increased activity when we have a particular task that demands focus, letting us start and sustain attention on the task. In the second–the default mode network–there’s increased activity when we have no particular task to do. In adults without ADHD, per the MIT research, these two networks cooperate:  When it’s time for one to get on stage, the other fades into the background. In adults with ADHD, these networks are uncooperative and can compete for attention at the same time.

vibrations-545138_1920In kids with ADHD, according to the results of the OHSU study (here), we see the same lack of coordination/cooperation between the networks as compared to children without ADHD, with this lack of coordination between networks increasing with age.

The result? Mixed signals. Attentional interference. Or, as the researchers put it, decreased attentional control. A reminder that behavior reflects brain activity, coordinated or otherwise.

Of interest, the OHSU researchers found that the brains of female children overall, with or without ADHD, showed more coordination between the opposing networks than the brains of male children.

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