Objective: To investigate the effect of methylphenidate (MPH) on visual-spatial memory, as measured by subtests of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Testing Automated Battery (CANTAB), in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Visual-spatial memory is a core component of working memory that has been shown to be impaired in ADHD, irrespective of comorbid reading and/or language problems.
Method: A clinic-referred sample of school-age children with a confirmed DSM-IV diagnosis of ADHD (n = 26) completed tests of visual-spatial memory, planning ability, and recognition memory in an acute, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial with three single fixed doses of MPH. MPH effects on right-handed and left-handed motor control were also assessed.
Results: MPH significantly improved performance on a self-ordered, updating visual-spatial working memory task and on maintenance of visual-spatial information but had no effects on measures of visual-spatial planning ability or recognition memory. Also, MPH significantly improved left-handed motor control.
Conclusions: Beneficial effects of MPH on visual-spatial processing in ADHD are selective and restricted to visual-spatial memory.