Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Methylphenidate Appears to Increase Motivation: ADHD Patients' Concentration Improves. (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Methylphenidate Appears to Increase Motivation: ADHD Patients' Concentration Improves. (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Article excerpt

New Orleans -- Methylphenidate may improve attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms by making tasks more interesting, researchers reported at the annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine.

"Methylphenidate's improvement of performance may be secondary to its motivating effects, which would explain why stimulants improve performance on boring tasks in controls, and more importantly, it may explain why unmedicated attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) children perform properly when the task is salient," said Dr. Nora D. Volkow, formerly of Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, N.Y., and now director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The researchers used positron emission tomography coupled with [C.sup.11]-radopride--a dopamine receptor radioligand that competes with endogenous dopamine--to test changes in dopamine induced by methylphenidate (Ritalin) when adult ADHD patients (average age 35 years) were given either a neutral or academically-salient task. The 16 patients (14 males) were also asked to describe how interesting the mathematical task was using descriptors such as interesting, exciting, motivating, or boring.

When methylphenidate was coupled with the mathematical tasks, dopamine levels increased in the caudate and the putamen. Methylphenidate also significantly increased the self-reports of the tasks as interesting, exciting, and motivating and decreased reports of fatigue and boredom, Dr. Volkow said. Most importantly, the increased dopamine levels co-related with self-reports of the tasks as interesting, exciting, and motivating. Neither methylphenidate when coupled with the neutral task nor the placebo coupled with the mathematical task increased extracellular dopamine levels in the brain.

Methylphenidate is thought to work by blocking dopamine transporters, the main mechanism for the removal of extracellular dopamine. …

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