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Motivational Incentives Help Kids With ADHD

Combining behavioral approach with medication boosts performance, study finds

FRIDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder who are on medication react more like other children when faced with a task that tests their attention and focusing skills, researchers have found.

The findings, published in the April 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry, suggest that the medication does what it's supposed to do: help children pay attention and control their impulses.

But motivational incentives seemed to help, too.

In the study, children played a video game that required them to focus and not be impulsive.

According to the researchers, from the University of Nottingham in England, the study's results indicate that stimulant medication normalizes brain function in children with ADHD so that they can pay better attention and be less impulsive. But using motivational incentives along with the drugs, they said, improved the children's performance.

"The findings suggest that there may be important additive effects of stimulant medications and behavioral strategies for increasing motivation in ADHD," Dr. John Krystal, the journal's editor, said in a news release from the journal's publisher.

"These interactive effects are important to bear in mind when optimizing the performance of children in school and other settings that require control of attention and behavior," Krystal said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more on ADHD.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Elsevier, news release, April 6, 2010

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