How ADHD Brought Us Lobster

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Why you should care

Because the hyperactive child in all of us may be the secret to our success.

Have you ever been annoyed by a hyperactive child? Maybe he was running around a crowded restaurant or screaming his head off on an airplane? This very behavior may have saved our species in the not-too-distant past.

That’s right. Researchers in the U.K. and Norway set up a computer simulation of hunter-gatherer conditions to study how unpredictable behavior can improve life for everyone else. They found that populations that contained about as many hyperactive individuals as ours do today were more likely to survive than others. Upshot: A certain amount of hyperactivity is good for society.

Why? It turns out that openness to risk-taking can be very helpful when you’re searching in the woods for your next meal and trying to figure out what is or isn’t safe to eat. Admittedly, hyperactivity can be risky, but it can also mean the discovery of wonderful new food sources, like lima beans, ramps, abalone and truffles.

So when your hyperactive kids get under your skin at brunch, ask yourself: Why did I bring them in the first place? Then remember that their ability to stumble upon the latest and greatest undiscovered morsel may have saved your ancestor’s skin — way before brunch was a thing.

Video by Tom Gorman.

This OZY encore was originally published Feb. 14, 2015.

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