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A 46-year-old member asked:

How does a stimulant like ritalin (methylphenidate) work in hyperactive children?

3 doctor answers7 doctors weighed in
Dr. Glen Elliott
Child Psychiatry 44 years experience
We're not sure: We know that stimulants increase activity of a neuroregulator found mainly in a very old part of the brain in a system whose activation is "rewarding." exactly why that leads to the dramatic improvements seen in many individuals with adhd is still the subject of varied research. One well-established fact: children (with or without adhd) respond similarly to stimulants: they aren't stimulated.
Dr. William Holmes
Child Psychiatry 35 years experience
Focus and Alertness: The stimulant medicines primarily work by increasing focus and attention span. This allows people to make better decisions about what needs to be done and what can be left alone. The result is decreased hyperactivity and a better use of activity level. Also, these medicines help to activate parts of the brain that promote alertness and awareness, which helps increase better judgement.
Dr. Glen Elliott
Child Psychiatry 44 years experience
Dr. Holmes is speaking to what they do. Exactly how the medicines accomplish this remains under intense study. We believe neurotransmitters called dopamine and norepinephrine are involved and know some of the brain areas that play a role. But, we still have much to learn.
Jul 2, 2012
Dr. William Singer
Pediatric Neurology 52 years experience
Brain under aroused: Children with ADHD have been found to have brain activity that is under aroused or less alert than average. Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a stimulant that increases brain nor epinephrin. This improves brain alertness.

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Similar questions

A 45-year-old member asked:

How does ritalin (methylphenidate) work at the chemical level, in hyperactive children?

3 doctor answers6 doctors weighed in
Dr. J. Kirk Clopton
Psychiatry 33 years experience
Increased inhibition: Hyperactivity in add occurs because inhibitory brain systems are "under active." Ritalin (methylphenidate) appears to work by increasing this inhibitory signal and thus decreasing hyperactivity.
Last updated Apr 13, 2016

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