Methylphenidate responsiveness in hyperactive children as a function of pre-treatment variables

Ellen R. Kaplan Friedman, Fordham University


The present study investigated several potential predictors of response to methylphenidate (Ritalin) in hyperactive or Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) children. This group of children comprises a heterogeneous group, and while stimulant medication is considered to be the treatment of choice, a substantial number of hyperactive children do not appear to benefit from it.^ The predictor or independent variables which were studied include activity level, measured by a stabilimetric chair; organicity, assessed by the Canter Background Interference Procedure for the Bender-Gestalt Test (BIP); and motor inhibition evaluated by performance on an operant task which differentially reinforced a low rate of responding (DRL).^ Drug response was measured by performance on the Porteus Maze Test, a test of impulsivity; the Continuous Performance Test, a test of sustained attention; and teacher and parent ratings.^ It was hypothesized that subjects with higher activity levels, poorer BIP scores, and poorer DRL performance would show greater improvement on measures of drug response after treatment with Ritalin.^ The subjects were 42 hyperactive children between the ages of five and twelve. Each subject was evaluated twice, once prior to medication, and again after four weeks of Ritalin treatment.^ Results indicated that the hypotheses were not confirmed. Activity level, BIP, and DRL operant tasks were not predictive of response to Ritalin on the measures of drug response.^ It was suggested that future research be directed toward using more molecular analyses and within-subjects designs, exploring dose-response curves for different measures, and developing adjunctive treatment regimens. ^

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Friedman, Ellen R. Kaplan, "Methylphenidate responsiveness in hyperactive children as a function of pre-treatment variables" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8917232.