Motor timing deficits in community and clinical boys with hyperactive behavior: the effect of methylphenidate on motor timing

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2003 Jun;31(3):301-13. doi: 10.1023/a:1023233630774.


In a previous paper we showed that community children with hyperactive behavior were more inconsistent than controls in the temporal organization of their motor output. In this study we investigated: (1) various aspects of motor timing processes in 13 clinically diagnosed boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who were compared to 11 community boys with hyperactive behavior and to a control group and (2) the effect of methylphenidate on the motor timing processes in the clinical group with ADHD in a double blind, cross-over, medication-placebo design, including 4 weeks of medication. The clinical group with ADHD, like the community group with hyperactivity, showed greater variability in sensorimotor synchronization and in sensorimotor anticipation relative to controls. The clinical group was also impaired in time perception, which was spared in the community group with hyperactivity. The persistent, but not the acute dose, of methylphenidate reduced the variability of sensorimotor synchronization and anticipation, but had no effect on time perception. This study shows that motor timing functions are impaired in both clinical and community children with hyperactivity. It is the first study to show the effectiveness of persistent administration of methylphenidate on deficits in motor timing in ADHD children and extends the use of methylphenidate from the domain of attentional and inhibitory functions to the domain of executive motor timing.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use*
  • Motor Skills / drug effects
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Time Perception / drug effects


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate