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Trends Neurosci. 2009 Jan;32(1):2-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2008.09.010. Epub 2008 Nov 3.

The dopaminergic hypothesis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder needs re-examining.

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University of Bordeaux, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique UMR 5227, 146 rue Leo Saignat, Bordeaux, F-33076, France.


Although psychostimulants alleviate the core symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), recent studies confirm that their impact on the long-term outcomes of ADHD children is null. Psychostimulants enhance extracellular dopamine. Numerous review articles assert that they correct an underlying dopaminergic deficit of genetic origin. This dopamine-deficit theory of ADHD is often based upon an overly simplistic dopaminergic theory of reward. Here, I question the relevance of this theory regarding ADHD. I underline the weaknesses of the neurochemical, genetic, neuropharmacological and imaging data put forward to support the dopamine-deficit hypothesis of ADHD. Therefore, this hypothesis should not be put forward to bias ADHD management towards psychostimulants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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