Cognitive Effects of Risperidone in Children with Autism and Irritable Behavior

Nisonger Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.
Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 2.93). 06/2008; 18(3):227-36. DOI: 10.1089/cap.2007.0133
Source: PubMed


The objective of this research was to explore the effects of risperidone on cognitive processes in children with autism and irritable behavior.
Thirty-eight children, ages 5-17 years with autism and severe behavioral disturbance, were randomly assigned to risperidone (0.5 to 3.5 mg/day) or placebo for 8 weeks. This sample of 38 was a subset of 101 subjects who participated in the clinical trial; 63 were unable to perform the cognitive tasks. A double-blind placebo-controlled parallel groups design was used. Dependent measures included tests of sustained attention, verbal learning, hand-eye coordination, and spatial memory assessed before, during, and after the 8-week treatment. Changes in performance were compared by repeated measures ANOVA.
Twenty-nine boys and 9 girls with autism and severe behavioral disturbance and a mental age >or=18 months completed the cognitive part of the study. No decline in performance occurred with risperidone. Performance on a cancellation task (number of correct detections) and a verbal learning task (word recognition) was better on risperidone than on placebo (without correction for multiplicity). Equivocal improvement also occurred on a spatial memory task. There were no significant differences between treatment conditions on the Purdue Pegboard (hand-eye coordination) task or the Analog Classroom Task (timed math test).
Risperidone given to children with autism at doses up to 3.5 mg for up to 8 weeks appears to have no detrimental effect on cognitive performance.

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