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Keywords:

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder;
  • methylphenidate;
  • working memory;
  • children;
  • adolescents;
  • clinical trial.

Background:  To investigate the effects of methylphenidate (MPH) on components of working memory (WM) in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and determine the responsiveness of WM measures to MPH.

Methods:  Participants were a clinical sample of 50 children and adolescents with ADHD, aged 6 to 16 years old, who participated in an acute randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial with single challenges of three MPH doses. Four components of WM were investigated, which varied in processing demands (storage versus manipulation of information) and modality (auditory-verbal; visual-spatial), each of which was indexed by a minimum of two separate measures.

Results:  MPH improved the ability to store visual-spatial information irrespective of instrument used, but had no effects on the storage of auditory-verbal information. By contrast, MPH enhanced the ability to manipulate both auditory-verbal and visual-spatial information, although effects were instrument specific in both cases.

Conclusions:  MPH effects on WM are selective: they vary as a function of WM component and measurement.