Methylphenidate responsiveness in hyperactive children as a function of pretreatment 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


Recommended Citation

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