Methylphenidate improves visual-spatial memory in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2004 Mar;43(3):260-8. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200403000-00006.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Methylphenidate / pharmacology*
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neuropsychological Tests


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate