Differential effects of methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine on the motor activity level of hyperactive children

Neuropsychopharmacology. 1989 Dec;2(4):255-63. doi: 10.1016/0893-133x(89)90029-8.


An acceleration-sensitive device was used to measure motor activity continuously through the day in 18 hyperactive boys in a day hospital program. The children received methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, or placebo daily after breakfast and lunch in an 11-week double-blind crossover trial. Differential effectiveness of the two drugs in lowering motor activity was found. Methylphenidate significantly lowered activity measurements in a morning structured classroom and in less structured activities in the afternoon. Dextroamphetamine effects on activity were similar, although they did not differ significantly from placebo effects between 11:00 AM and noon in our classroom setting. Methylphenidate produced a greater decrement in motor activity than did dextroamphetamine between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. There were no significant differences in activity level between drug doses within each drug phase across the dose ranges used (for methylphenidate 0.45 to 1.25 mg/kg given twice daily, and for dextroamphetamine 0.2 to 0.6 mg/kg given twice daily). Plasma drug concentrations did not correlate with decrements in activity for either drug.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dextroamphetamine / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Hyperkinesis / drug therapy*
  • Hyperkinesis / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*


  • Methylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine