Dr Dione Healy

Email: dione.healey@otago.ac.nz
Tel 64 3 479 7620
Visit Associate Professor Healey's Profile

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common disorders of childhood, causing difficulties for individuals, their families, schools, peers, and society at large. Additionally these children are recipients of numerous services ranging from classroom adaptations, individual therapies, family interventions, medication prescriptions, and A & E visitations following reckless and impulsive behaviours. While effective treatments for the disorder exist, in the form of medication and behavioural management training, they do not have any lasting effects. Once the active intervention is ceased the symptoms return.

Promising Results for "Brain Training" Interventions for ADHD

An extensive body of research has shown that the brains of children with ADHD are delayed in their growth and that these children have a wide array of neurocognitive deficits which likely contribute to their maladaptive behaviour patterns. Psychological research has consistently shown that normal brain development is highly responsive to environmental enrichment. Therefore, researchers in the field have recently begun to develop and test “brain training” interventions for ADHD. The results so far are promising.

ENGAGE: Enhancing Neurobehavioural Gains with the Aid of Games and Exercise

Associate Professor Healey's research programme is focused on the evaluation of an intervention that she her colleagues have developed; called ENGAGE (Enhancing Neurobehavioural Gains with the Aid of Games and Exercise). This programme uses common children's games to target skill deficits associated with hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention in an attempt to improve brain functioning and teach self-regulatory skills. The hope is that this intervention approach may lead to more lasting effects than the currently available treatments for ADHD.

Supervision of Student Projects and Thesis on ADHD

In addition to her intervention research, Associate Professor Healey runs a very active research laboratory where she supervises a wide range of student projects and thesis looking at various aspects of functioning in children with ADHD, as well as their teachers and families.



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