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How Do ADHD Medications Work?

Friday, October 24, 2013

A new study in Biological Psychiatry by researchers at King's College London using brain imaging scans shows that both the stimulant methylphenidate (Ritalin) and non-stimulant atomoxetine (Strattera) improve the brain's activation, shown under-activated in the frontal lobes of those with ADHD during cognitive tasks."This could explain why both types of drug improve behaviour in children with ADHD, namely by normalizing the reduced activity in the frontal lobes that typifies the disorder,"first author Dr. Anna Smith explains. However, only Ritalin "acts quickly with immediate effects upon performance on a timing task we know children with ADHD find challenging." Whereas methylphenidate blocks both norepinephrine and dopamine transporters, atomoxetine blocks only the norepinephrine transporter. Thus, this study might be seen as comparing two drugs that potently block norepinephrine uptake, but which differ in the extent to which they raise cortical dopamine levels.

According to Dr Levinson's clinical experience, Ritalin is far superior to Strattera for ADHD, suggesting the above differences may be crucial in determining therapeutic outcomes.

About Harold Levinson, M.D.

Formerly Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center, Dr. Harold Levinson is currently Director of the Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities in Great Neck, New York. He is a well known neuropsychiatrist, clinical researcher and author. His "highly original" research into the cerebellar-vestibular (inner-ear) origins and treatment of dyslexia and related learning, attention-deficit/hyperactivity and anxiety or phobic disorders has evolved over the past four decades. Levinson's concepts encompass the collective insights derived from the examinations, follow-up and successful treatment of over 35,000 children, adults and even seniors and have led to new methods of screening, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. His expanded theories appear capable of encompassing and/or explaining all reported symptoms as well as most other concepts and experimental data, thus resulting in a truly holistic perspective.

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