Effects of single-dose methylphenidate on cognitive performance in patients with traumatic brain injury: a double-blind placebo-controlled study

Clin Rehabil. 2006 Jan;20(1):24-30. doi: 10.1191/0269215506cr927oa.


Objectives: To determine the effect of a single dose of methylphenidate on the cognitive performance of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI), and particularly on working memory and visuospatial attention.

Design: A double-blind placebo-controlled study. The subjects were randomly divided into an experimental group taking methylphenidate and a control group taking a placebo.

Setting: The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine of a university hospital.

Subjects: Eighteen subjects with TBI (16 male and two female) were enrolled.

Interventions: The patients were given 20 mg methylphenidate or a placebo. Cognitive assessments were performed at three times: before the medication as a baseline, 2 h after medication and at follow-up (48 h later).

Main measures: Cognitive assessments consisted of working memory tasks and endogenous visuospatial attention tasks designed using SuperLabPro 2.0 software. Response accuracy and reaction time were measured.

Results: There were significant improvements in response accuracy in the methylphenidate group compared with the placebo group for both the working memory and visuospatial attention tasks. A significant decrease in the reaction time was also observed in the methylphenidate group only for the working memory task.

Conclusions: The administration of single-dose methylphenidate has an effect in improving cognitive functioning following a TBI. The effects were most prominent regarding the reaction time of the working memory.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Brain Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Methylphenidate / administration & dosage
  • Methylphenidate / pharmacology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate