Treatment effects of methylphenidate on cognitive functioning in children with mental retardation and ADHD

Deborah A. Pearson, Cynthia W. Santos, Charles D. Casat, David M. Lane, Susan W. Jerger, John D. Roache, Katherine A. Loveland, David Lachar, Laura P. Faria, Christa D. Payne, Lynne A. Cleveland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: Cognitive effects of stimulant medication were investigated in children with mental retardation (MR) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Method: Performance on tasks tapping sustained attention, visual and auditory selective attention, inhibition, and immediate memory was assessed for 24 children (mean age 10.9 years) during a placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover treatment trial with 0.15, 0.30, and 0.60 mg/kg b.i.d. dosages of methylphenidate (MPH). Results: Successively higher MPH doses were associated with consistent gains in cognitive task performance, with optimal performance noted at the highest dose. Analysis of dose-response curves revealed significant linear components of trend on measures tapping sustained attention, visual selective attention, auditory selective attention, as well as two tasks tapping inhibition/impulsivity: delay of gratification and match-to-sample. No evidence of a curvilinear dose-response relationship emerged for any measure. Conclusions: Inattention and disinhibition/impulsivity decline with MPH treatment in children with ADHD/MR, and consistent with the Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD, higher MPH doses are most effective. These findings also suggest that cognitive testing, together with behavioral and medical assessment, can be an effective tool in assessing stimulant response in children with ADHD/MR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-685
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Children
  • Cognition
  • Mental retardation
  • Methylphenidate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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