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Stimulants Help Delay Rewards with ADD
Parents and teachers know that a potent reward can help a child with Attention Deficit Disorder to have better focus. An adult with ADD, who has learned strategies to cope with the negative symptoms of this brain difference, has often learned ways to reward himself. Past research has shown that the Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain plays a part in this increased focus when a reward is applied. This DMN is partially responsible for attending to a task, since the brain's default setting is to have a wandering mind. Researchers in the MIDAS (Motivation Inhibition and Development in ADHD Study) group discovered that two things seem to help the faulty DMN off switch. Stimulant medications and rewards tend to help with the problem. New research in a monkey study also suggests that methylphenidate may allow people with Attention Deficit Disorder to delay smaller rewards for larger ones.
Luis Populin and his graduate student, Abigail Zdrale Rajala, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chose two rhesus macaque monkeys as test subjects. One was calm, while the other showed impulsivity. Both monkeys were trained to watch a dot. After the dot disappeared, the monkeys could choose an immediate or delayed reward. The calmer monkey would choose a larger delayed reward, while the impulsive monkey would not delay gratification. He would choose the smaller, more immediate, reward. When the monkeys were given methylphenidate, the impulsive monkey showed the same tolerance for delayed rewards as his un-medicated calmer peer.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is affected by methylphenidate. The stimulant medication affects the re-uptake of the dopamine, which allows more dopamine to be used by the brain. This affects the way that the brain processes the signals that choices of rewards are available. The Populin-Rajala study implies that the reward system of the brain is more closely linked to the primitive parts of the brain, rather than the frontal cortex.
Whether or not you choose to use a stimulant medication to help manage the negative symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder, remember rewards. A potent reward can help to ameliorate a lack of focus. Find out which rewards work for the person with ADD, then apply those rewards, as needed!
University of Wisconsin-Madison (2013, November 13). Impulsivity, rewards and ritalin: Monkey study shows tighter link. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/11/131113162341.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmind_brain%2Fadd_and_adhd+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Mind+%26+Brain+News+--+ADD+and+ADHD%29
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