ADHD and hyperfocus

By Gail Belsky

Expert reviewed by Ellen Braaten, PhD

At a glance

  • People with ADHD can hyperfocus on things they’re very interested in.

  • Hyperfocus doesn’t mean people don’t have problems with attention.

  • ADHD medication may help with hyperfocus.

People with ADHD have difficulty focusing. But many can also hyperfocus on things they’re very interested in. 

The idea of hyperfocus can be confusing. How can a person who has trouble focusing on most things lose themselves in a video game, movie, or craft project for hours? It might look like that person doesn’t really struggle with attention. 

But having good focus requires two things. People need to be able to pay attention even if something isn’t that interesting. And they need to be able to not pay attention to something interesting — or something that’s bothering them — when they need to focus on doing what they’re doing because it’s more interesting than what they’re being asked to do.

Dive deeper

About the author

About the author

Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Ellen Braaten, PhD is a child psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital where she is the Founding d Director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP). She is also an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Braaten's research focuses on ADHD, dyslexia, processing speed, and resilience in children. Her clinical work is in the field of neuropsychology, where she assesses children with learning disabilities, ADHD and developmental challenges.


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