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Pediatrics. 1993 Apr;91(4):816-9.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, creativity, and the effects of methylphenidate.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo 43699.


Given that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more impulsive than peers, this study explored whether they are correspondingly more creative, and whether creativity declines when impulsivity is decreased through methylphenidate (Ritalin) therapy. A repeated-measures quasi-experimental design was used to compare the performance of 19 boys with previously diagnosed ADHD and 21 comparison boys aged 8 through 11 on two administrations of alternate forms of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking-Figural (nonverbal). Boys with ADHD received prescribed methylphenidate only for the first session. Overall, mean Torrance summary scores for comparison boys (mean = 115.1, SD = 16.1) were higher than for boys with ADHD (mean = 107.6, SD = 12.7). However, the difference between means was small (7%) and did not meet the 25% criterion for a clinically significant difference. No changes in performance over time (comparison group) or medication state (ADHD group) were observed. These data suggest that, when measured nonverbally, the creative thinking performance of boys with ADHD is not superior to that of peers who do not have ADHD. Regarding the effects of methylphenidate, prescribed therapy did not influence performance on this measure of creative thinking.

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