ADHD Helps Nomadic Tribesmen in Kenya

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Years ago, Thom Hartmann coined the phrase "Hunters in a Farmer's World" to describe his perception of ADHD. According to Mr. Hartmann, just because ADHD deviates from the norm, as accepted in today's society, it does not make it wrong or make it a defect. The theory explains how what is now considered a disorder may once have helped people to survive.


    In 2002, a study completed by UCI College of Medicine concurred with Thom Hartmann and indicated that the gene responsible for ADHD may have previously been an advantage to humans.


    Another study, completed this year, agrees and shows how the gene DRD4, thought to be involved in impulsiveness, reward anticipation, novelty seeking and other ADHD symptoms, helps a nomadic tribe even today.

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    The Ariaal tribe in Kenya has two separate groups. One group has settled and the other group remains nomadic. In both groups, there were men that have the DRD4/7R gene. Both groups were tested for body mass index and height. The results of the study indicated that within the group of nomads, the men with the gene were better nourished. Within the group of the tribe that had settled, the men with the gene were less well-nourished.


    Scientists theorize that the gene may help nomads to "effectively defend livestock against raiders or locate food and water sources, but the same tendencies might not be as beneficial in settled pursuits such as focusing in school, farming or selling goods."  The scientists believe that behavior differences caused or associated with the DRD4 gene may be beneficial based on the environment.




    BMC Evolutionary Biology (2008, June 10). Is ADHD An Advantage For Nomadic Tribesmen?. ScienceDaily.


Published On: December 27, 2008