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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Jan;36(1):207-26. doi: 10.1038/npp.2010.160. Epub 2010 Sep 29.

Understanding the effects of stimulant medications on cognition in individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a decade of progress.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.

Abstract

The use of stimulant drugs for the treatment of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most widespread pharmacological interventions in child psychiatry and behavioral pediatrics. This treatment is well grounded on controlled studies showing efficacy of low oral doses of methylphenidate and amphetamine in reducing the behavioral symptoms of the disorder as reported by parents and teachers, both for the cognitive (inattention and impulsivity) and non-cognitive (hyperactivity) domains. Our main aim is to review the objectively measured cognitive effects that accompany the subjectively assessed clinical responses to stimulant medications. Recently, methods from the cognitive neurosciences have been used to provide information about brain processes that underlie the cognitive deficits of ADHD and the cognitive effects of stimulant medications. We will review some key findings from the recent literature, and then offer interpretations of the progress that has been made over the past decade in understanding the cognitive effects of stimulant medication on individuals with ADHD.

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