University of Gothenburg

Birgit Olsson Lecture 2018

Dr Russell Barkley's lecture "The Second Attention Disorder - Sluggish Cognitive Tempo vs. ADHD"

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The Second Attention Disorder - Sluggish Cognitive Tempo vs. ADHD

About Dr Russell Barkley

Russell Barkley is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Virginia Treatment Center for Children and the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, US. Professor Russell Barkley is one of the most cited researchers in the field of ADHD and has published more than 200 scientific papers and book chapters related to the nature, assessment, and treatment of ADHD and related disorders.


"The Second Attention Disorder - Sluggish Cognitive Tempo vs. ADHD"

The lecture provided historical background on the concept of Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) and an overview of the current scientific landscape surrounding it. SCT, which is not as of yet a formal diagnosis, includes symptoms such as excessive daydreaming, seemingly being somewhere else, sluggishness, drowsiness, low activity level etc. Professor Barkley presented similarities and differences between SCT and ADHD, more specifically focusing on ADHD predominantly inattentive. He explained that while SCT and ADHD may sometimes overlap, i.e. that many people with ADHD also have SCT, there are also quite a few people with SCT who do not have ADHD (and vice versa). Some of the differences he described included: the lack of impulsivity in SCT, poor executive functioning being less pronounced in SCT than in ADHD, that inattention-related problems in ADHD differ from those of SCT, that ADHD medication does not have the same effect on SCT as it does on ADHD and that SCT symptoms do not subside but sometimes rather intensify in adulthood. Professor Barkley also presented findings indicating that SCT explains important factors like functional impairment, comorbidity, neuropsychology etc. In conclusion, Russell Barkley claims that SCT is not a variant/subtype of ADHD but rather a unique condition; however, some people may have both at the same time.