Attention, Executive Function, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • David W. DunnEmail author
  • William G. Kronenberger
Part of the Neuropsychiatric Symptoms of Neurological Disease book series (NSND)


People with epilepsy have an increased risk of problems with attention and executive function. Approximately one third meet criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Also, children with ADHD have an increased risk for seizures. Risk factors for difficulties with attention and executive functioning are common genetic vulnerability or underlying central nervous system damage, early age of seizure onset, more severe and more frequent seizures, and adverse effect of antiepileptic drugs. Phenobarbital, benzodiazepine, and topiramate have been associated with attention problems. Problems with attention and executive function are associated with cognitive and academic disability. Methylphenidate is first choice medication to treat attention difficulties and rarely has a negative impact on seizure control. Atomoxetine is a second choice medication. Alpha-2 agonists, amphetamines, and low dose tricyclic antidepressants can be tried if neither methylphenidate nor atomoxetine are successful. Educational interventions may also be required.


Attention Executive function ADHD Academic function Epilepsy 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Psychiatry and NeurologyIndiana University School of Medicine, Riley Child and Adolescent Psychiatry ClinicIndianapolisUSA
  2. 2.Section of Psychology, Department of PsychiatryIndiana University School of Medicine, Riley Child and Adolescent Psychiatry ClinicIndianapolisUSA

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