Effect of methylphenidate on Stroop Color–Word task
performance in children with attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder
Daniel D. Langlebena,*, John Monterossod, Igor Elmanb, Brian Asha,
Gary Krikorianc, Glenn Austinc,F
aDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 3900 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States
bMcLean Hospital, Harvard University School of Medicine, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, United States
cThe Community/Academia Coalition, Mountain View, CA, United States
dDepartment of Psychology, University of California-Los Angeles, 1285 Franz Hall, Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, United States
Received 25 March 2005; received in revised form 8 September 2005; accepted 18 September 2005
Dedicated to the memory of Glenn Austin
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neuropsychiatric syndrome common in the pediatric population. It is
associated with multiple nonspecific deficits on neuropsychological tests of executive function, and a beneficial response to
pharmacotherapy with methylphenidate (MPH) and other psychostimulants. The Stroop Color–Word task is used empirically as
an aid in diagnosis and treatment monitoring of ADHD; however, data on the sensitivity of the Stroop interference score to the
effects of MPH are limited. To address this issue, we studied Stroop performance in a cohort of 18 MPH-treated prepubescent
boys with ADHD and six healthy controls on and off MPH treatment conditions. MPH significantly improved performance in
both groups, with the ADHD participants consistently displaying worse scores than those of controls both on and off MPH.
These results suggest that though the diagnostic value of the Stroop task in ADHD remains controversial, it has heuristic value
for monitoring clinical responses to MPH treatment. More research is needed to ascertain the clinical significance of our
findings and to replicate this relatively small effect in a larger cohort, to determine whether MPH effects on Stroop performance
are specific to ADHD symptoms or they generalize to other forms of symptomatology.
D 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Methylphenidate; Interference; Response inhibition; Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
0165-1781/$ - see front matter D 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
* Corresponding author. TRC, 3900 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States. Tel.: +1 215 222 3200x196; fax: +1 215 386
E-mail address: email@example.com (D.D. Langleben).
Psychiatry Research 141 (2006) 315–320
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