Discriminative and Participant-Rated Effects of Methylphenidate in Children Diagnosed With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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Despite the demonstrated beneficial effects of methylphenidate and d-amphetamine for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the discriminative and subjective effects of these compounds in children are not well understood. This study was designed to characterize such effects in children diagnosed with ADHD. In a series of 3 experiments, 17 children were examined to determine whether methylphenidate (n = 12) and d-amphetamine (n = 5) could be reliably discriminated at doses typically used in clinical practice. Under some conditions (e.g., when they were instructed to attend to the drug effects or when a wide range of doses was used), children discriminated methylphenidate (5.0–30.0 mg) from placebo. Children tested under a range of doses of d-amphetamine (2.5–20.0 mg) were unable to discriminate this drug from placebo reliably. Neither methylphenidate nor d-amphetamine produced reliable participant-rated effects.

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