Effects of stimulant medication on learning in children with ADHD

J Learn Disabil. 1991 Apr;24(4):219-30, 255. doi: 10.1177/002221949102400406.


It is well established that stimulant medication improves classroom manageability and attention in terms of time on task, but does stimulant medication improve learning or long-term academic achievement in children with ADHD? There is no clear evidence that it does, but there are at least two reasons why beneficial effects may be obscured in research studies and clinical practice: (1) Higher-than-optimal doses may be prescribed if behavioral response (rather than cognitive response) is used to titrate the dose, and (2) treatment may be overinclusive if diagnostic groups are targeted in which a significant proportion of cases do not have favorable cognitive responses to medication. This article addresses these two issues and describes a large clinical series of patients who were evaluated using a double-blind medication assessment protocol designed to overcome some of the theoretical deficiencies suggested by these issues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Child
  • Dextroamphetamine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / drug therapy*
  • Learning Disabilities / psychology
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use*
  • Pemoline / therapeutic use*


  • Methylphenidate
  • Pemoline
  • Dextroamphetamine