Methylphenidate (MPH; trade name Ritalin) is a widely used drug for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and is often used as a cognitive enhancer. Because MPH increases dopamine (DA) release by blocking the DA transporter in the human striatum, MPH is supposed to work on attention and cognition through a DA increase in the striatum. However, ADHD patients show impaired prefrontal cortex (PFC) function and MPH administration is associated with increased neural activity in the PFC. Although MPH is indicated to increase DA release in the rat PFC, there has been no study to examine MPH-induced DA changes in the human PFC because of technical difficulties associated with the low level of PFC DA receptors. Using the microdialysis technique, we examined the effects of oral administration of MPH on DA release in both the PFC and striatum in the monkey. We also tested the effect of MPH on cognitive task performance. As in human studies, in the striatum, both high and low doses of MPH induced consistent increases in DA release~30 min after their administrations. In the PFC, a consistent increase in DA release was observed 1 h after a high dose, but not low doses, of MPH. Low doses of MPH improved cognitive task performance, but a high dose of MPH made the monkey drowsy. Therefore, low-dose MPH-induced cognitive enhancement is supported by striatum DA increase.
- Prefrontal cortex
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