Tracking your attention span

Trying to assess the efficacy of an ADHD medication, and would like to have something more than a self assessment form to measure it with.

Does anyone have suggestions on an activity or task that I could use as a benchmark?

I would (biasedly) recommend going to and designing a custom experiment where your one mental variable is whether you took the medication. Choose “Executive function” as your focus, and pick one of the test batteries based on how long you feel comfortable benchmarking your brain for regularly.

Ideally, you would switch on and off of the ADHD medication on a regular interval so that you can differentiate the effects of the meds from the test practice effects and any other time-based sources of attention variability. I don’t know how long washout/tolerance might be for this med, but if it’s not too long, you might think of testing daily while taking the medicine for two weeks, then not taking it for two weeks, and then taking it, etc., repeating this a few times until you have really, really good data.

It’s not too hard, but it does take time. I think if you do something much less empirical than this and still want to get at the truth with numbers rather than qualitative observations, you’re only going to be able to pick up very large effects. (For which you wouldn’t really need QS, because they’d be obvious.)

I want to know why Nick didn’t suggest using Skritter. Because I think measuring how long you can use Anki before you stop would be a reasonable test.

Just do one study bout a day. If you want it to be short, like 10 minutes, do it sitting down. If you want it to be long, like 30 minutes, do it while walking on a treadmill.

Knowing a couple of people who’ve been on Ritalin/Adderall (some for more then ten years), let me tell you ADHD ‘medication’ is something that definitely is worth monitoring very closely.

Let me just stress what Nick mentioned, it’s really important:
If you compare your performance in an on-off fashion you’ll (very likely) see that you’ll do better on medication and relatively bad in the periods in between taking medication. Most ADHD medication is more or less very pure low-dose speed (some describe it even as something more similar to cocaine). So whenever you stop taking it, you’re experiencing something that can best be described as an abstinence symptom: your brain needs a while to regenerate before even going back to baseline.

Maybe include something else in your experiments that you can compare, for example something to help you recover faster? (meditation? try the 8wk mindfulness meditation course that’s offered in most cities these days…)
Or maybe try to find out more about this recovery period? How long does it take you to get back to your ‘normal’ levels?
Or find out something about the correct dosage? Does maybe taking less give you more benefits?
Also, additionally you can keep track of your mood as this is one of the things very frequently influenced by this kind of medication…

If you just want to look for improvements when on medication, doing the tests seems like a waste of time. You’ll have trouble finding anyone anywhere on earth whose cognitive performance isn’t measurably improved by correctly dosed stimulant drugs in the short term…

All the Best,

Maybe just Anki in itself? (I’m not quite ready to take on Mandarin/Cantonese/etc)
But I do have various subjects I need to build upon…

Great suggestion though.

Anywhere on this site on how to make this as scientific as possible?
ie how to control out other variables,
how to “blind” myself (maybe not possible?)


Been on your site, its perfect.

Thank you!