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Attention deficits: drugs, therapy, cognitive training

Shelley launched a good discussion on The Neuroscience of ADHD in her blog, discussing the situation and providing a technical overview of drug-based interventions. Something I hadn’t heard is that “For example, babies born prematurely face a significantly greater risk of developing ADHD than full-term babies (socioeconomic status was controlled for).”

Which helps me better understand the need to think about pre-schoolers, as discussed in the article Diagnosing ADD/ ADHD in Preschoolers, at ADDitude Magazine. I quote:

  • “The Preschool ADHD Treatment Study, or PATS, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is the first long-term study designed to evaluate the effectiveness of treating preschoolers with ADHD with behavioral therapy, and then, in some cases, methylphenidate. In the first stage, the children (303 preschoolers with severe ADHD, between the ages of three and five) and their parents participated in a 10-week behavioral therapy course. For one third of the children, ADHD symptoms improved so dramatically with behavior therapy alone that they did not progress to the ADHD medication phase of the study.”

As Shelley’s post and the article explain, drugs do help when used appropriately. Now, they are not the only answer. I am happy to see that behavioral therapy can be as useful when appropriate. Which is not a surprise, given the growing literature on different methods of cognitive training, including therapy and working memory training like the one discussed with Notre Dame’s Bradley Gibson and in our post Cognitive Neuroscience and ADD/ADHD Today.

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