How Stimulants Really Work to Improve Attention
Rather than improving concentration, methylphenidate and similar stimulants actually work by increasing individuals' motivation to complete difficult tasks by raising dopamine levels, new research shows. In what researchers believe is the first study to pinpoint exactly how stimulants alter cognitive function, the results show that these agents improve cognition by increasing striatal dopamine and boosting cognitive motivation.
@pauline The double-blind study included 50 healthy men and women (25 each gender) between the ages of 18 and 43 years. All participants underwent baseline functional MRI scanning prior to the study, during, and right after the cognitive tasks, and PET imaging to measure dopamine levels in the striatum before, during, and after the study. Each participant completed the experiment three times — once after taking placebo, once after taking methylphenidate, and once after taking low-dose sulpiride, which is also a D2 receptor antagonist that increases striatal dopamine.