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Effects of methylphenidate on sensory and sensorimotor gating of initially psychostimulant-naïve adult ADHD patients

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Deficient information processing in ADHD theoretically results in sensory overload, which in turn may underlie its symptoms. If this sensory overload is caused by deficient filtering of environmental stimuli, then one would expect finding deficits in P50 gating and prepulse inhibition of the startle reflex (PPI). Previous reports on these measures in ADHD have shown inconsistent findings, which may have been caused by either medication use or comorbidity (e.g. ASD). The primary aim of this study was therefore to explore P50 suppression and PPI in adult, psychostimulant-naïve patients with ADHD without major comorbidity, and to examine the effects of 6 weeks treatment with methylphenidate (MPH) on these measures. A total of 42 initially psychostimulant-naive, adult ADHD patients without major comorbidity and 42 matched healthy controls, were assessed for their P50 gating, PPI, and habituation/sensitization abilities at baseline and after 6 weeks of treatment with methylphenidate. Although six weeks of treatment with MPH significantly reduced symptomatology as well as improved daily life functioning in our patients, it neither significantly affected PPI, P50 suppression nor sensitization, but habituation unexpectedly decreased. The absence of PPI and P50 suppression deficits in our patients in the psychostimulant-naïve state indicates no gating deficits. In turn, this suggests that the difficulties to inhibit distraction of attention by irrelevant stimuli that many patients with (adult) ADHD report, have a different origin than the theoretical causes of sensory overload frequently reported in studies on patients with schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Pages (from-to)83-92
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

    Research areas

  • Adult ADHD, Endophenotypes, Methylphenidate, Sensorimotor gating, Sensory gating

ID: 65395200