It was hypothesized that a central nervous system stimulant with relatively weak peripheral effects would facilitate test performance in the cognitively impaired aged. Twelve elderly subjects participated in a counter-balanced, crossover comparison of 10 mg methylphenidate, 30 mg methylphenidate and placebo. All treatments were administered double-blind as a single dose of oral medication. Neither dosage of active medication was found to effect psychomotor or psychological test performance, subjective report, heart rate or blood pressure. A subsequent open trial of 45 mg methylphenidate resulted in heart rate, blood pressure and subjective changes in two of eight subjects but no effects on test performance. The results suggest that cognitive performance in the moderately impaired aged is unimproved following administration of methylphenidate, and perhaps similar sympathomimetic amines, below a dosage level associated with clinically significant peripheral effects.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Birren, J. E.: Psychophysiological relations. In: Human aging (USPHS Publication, 986), J. E. Birren, ed., pp. 289–293. Washington, D. C., U. S. Public Health Service 1963
Birren, J. E.: Psychophysiology and speed of response. Amer. Psychol. 29, 808–815 (1974)
Botwinick, J.: Cognitive processes in maturity and old age. New York: Springer 1967
Botwinick, J.: Aging and behavior. New York: Springer 1973
Broverman, D. M., Klaiber, E. L., Kobayashi, Y., Vogel, W.: Roles of activation and inhibition in sex differences in cognitive abilities. Psychol. Rev. 75, 23–50 (1968)
Eisdorfer, C.: New dimensions and a tentative theory Gerontologist 7, 14–18 (1967)
Eisdorfer, C., Nowlin, J., Wilkie, F.: Improvement of learning in the aged by modification of autonomic nervous system activity. Science 170, 1327–1329 (1970)
Farner, D.: Untersuchungen über die Wirkung von Pharmaka auf Tiere verschiedenen Alters. IV. Gerontologia 5, 45–54 (1961a)
Farner, D.: Untersuchungen über die Wirkung von Pharmaka auf Tiere verschiedenen Alters. III. Gerontologia 5, 35–44 (1961b)
Gilbert, J. G., Levee, R. F., Catalano, F. L.: A preliminary report on a new memory scale. Percept. Mot. Skills 27, 277–278 (1968)
Jarvik, L. F., Cohen, D.: A biobehavioral approach to intellectual changes with aging. In: The psychology of adult development and aging, C. Eisdorfer and M. P. Lawton, eds. pp. 220–280. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association 1973
Jarvik, M. E.: Effects of chemical and physical treatments on learning and memory. Ann. Rev. Psychol. 23, 457–486 (1972)
Martin, W. R., Sloan, J. W., Sapira, J. D., Jasinski, D. R.: Physiologic, subjective, and behavioral effects of amphetamine, methamphetamine, ephedrine, phenmetrazine, and methylphenidate in man. Clin. Pharmacol. Ther. 12, 245–257 (1971)
Meir, R., Gross, S., Tripod, J.: Ritalin, a new synthetic compound with specific central stimulant action. Klin. Wschr. 32, 445–450 (1954)
Moran, L. J., Mefferd, R. B.: Repetitive psychometric measures. Psychol. Rep. 5, 269–275 (1959)
Moran, L. J., Kimble, J. P., Mefferd, R. B.: Repetitive psychometric measures: Memory-For-Faces. Psychol. Rep. 7, 407–413 (1960)
Moran, L. J., Kimble, J. P., Mefferd, R. B.: Repetitive psychometric measures: Equating. Psychol. Rep. 14, 335–338 (1964)
Shmavonian, B. M., Busse, E. W.: Psychophysiological techniques in the study of the aged. In: Processes of aging, R. H. Williams, C. Tibbitts, and W. Donahue, eds. pp. 160–183. New York: Atherton 1963
Surwillo, W. W.: The relation of simple response time to brain-wave frequency and the effects of age. Electroenceph. clin. Neurophysiol. 15, 105–114 (1963)
Thompson, L. W., Marsh, G. R.: Psychophysiological studies of aging. In: The psychology of adult development and aging, C. Eisdorfer and M. P. Lawton, eds., pp. 112–148. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association 1973
Troyer, W. G., Eisdorfer, C., Wilkie, F., Bogdanoff, M. D.: Free fatty acid responses in the aged individual during performance of learning tasks. J. Geront. 21, 415–419 (1966)
Wechsler, D.: A standardized memory scale for clinical use. J. Psychol. 19, 87–95 (1945)
Wechsler, D.: The measurement and appraisal of adult intelligence (fourth edition). Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins 1958
Winer, B. J.: Statistical principles in experimental design (second edition). New York: McGraw-Hill 1971
About this article
Cite this article
Crook, T., Ferris, S., Sathananthan, G. et al. The effect of methylphenidate on test performance in the cognitively impaired aged. Psychopharmacology 52, 251–255 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00426708
- Central nervous system stimulant
- Peripheral drug effects
- Psychological test performance