, Volume 113, Issue 10, pp 1575-1592
Date: 08 Aug 2006

Methylphenidate-induced improvements of various measures of attention in adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

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The present study examined the effect of the stimulant medication methylphenidate (MPH) on attentional functioning of adults with ADHD. Sixteen adults with a diagnosed ADHD without comorbidity were assessed twice, at baseline off MPH and following MPH treatment. The assessment battery consisted of reaction time tasks of low complexity, including measures of alertness – subdivided into tonic and phasic alertness, vigilance, divided attention, flexibility and such aspects of selective attention as including focused attention, inhibition and integration of sensory information. In addition, 16 healthy participants who were matched to adults with ADHD according to sex, age, education level and intellectual functions were also assessed twice using the same test battery. The results of the present study suggest that adults with ADHD off stimulant medication are seriously impaired in various components of attention including vigilance, divided attention, selective attention and flexibility. These impairments of attention were observed primarily in regard to reaction time and its variability. Treatment of adults with ADHD using individually tailored doses of MPH has a positive effect on measures of alertness, vigilance, selective attention, divided attention and flexibility. However, even on MPH adults with ADHD displayed considerable deficits in vigilance and integration of sensory information. The present findings indicate that adults with ADHD are not differentially impaired in attentional processes but may suffer from a more global deficit of attention. Although MPH treatment has been found to be effective in the treatment of the attention deficit of adults with ADHD, additional treatment appears to be necessary.