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Shooting Stars Test for ADHD

New screening tool uses game-like video

Harvard Medical School doctors have come up with a 15-minute video-game-like test to help diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), reports the Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader.

To measure hyperactivity, the test, designed for children ages 6 to 12, tracks an infrared marker on the back of a child's head as he responds to a computer screen showing moving stars, the story says. The speed and accuracy of the child's other responses to screen activity measures attentiveness and impulsiveness, a key symptom of the disorder, which affects some 3.5 million American children.

Experts say the screening test will aid but not substitute for professional diagnosis of the disorder, which traditionally is treated with a combination of the drug Ritalin and psychotherapy. The use of Ritalin has become controversial and the subject of lawsuits around the country.

The national advocacy group CHADD, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, reports that three class-action suits accusing the organization of conspiring with the drug's manufacturer, Novartis, and the American Psychiatric Association to increase sales of the drug have been dismissed or withdrawn.

The National Institutes of Health offers a complete rundown on the disorder, from symptoms to treatment options.

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