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Brain Sci. 2012, 2(3), 375-404; doi:10.3390/brainsci2030375
Article

Long-Term Effects of Chronic Oral Ritalin Administration on Cognitive and Neural Development in Adolescent Wistar Kyoto Rats

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Received: 3 July 2012 / Revised: 24 August 2012 / Accepted: 28 August 2012 / Published: 12 September 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Addiction and Neuroadaptation)
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Abstract

The diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often results in chronic treatment with psychostimulants such as methylphenidate (MPH, Ritalin®). With increases in misdiagnosis of ADHD, children may be inappropriately exposed to chronic psychostimulant treatment during development. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of chronic Ritalin treatment on cognitive and neural development in misdiagnosed “normal” (Wistar Kyoto, WKY) rats and in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats (SHR), a model of ADHD. Adolescent male animals were treated for four weeks with oral Ritalin® (2 × 2 mg/kg/day) or distilled water (dH2O). The effect of chronic treatment on delayed reinforcement tasks (DRT) and tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity (TH-ir) in the prefrontal cortex was assessed. Two weeks following chronic treatment, WKY rats previously exposed to MPH chose the delayed reinforcer significantly less than the dH2O treated controls in both the DRT and extinction task. MPH treatment did not significantly alter cognitive performance in the SHR. TH-ir in the infralimbic cortex was significantly altered by age and behavioural experience in WKY and SHR, however this effect was not evident in WKY rats treated with MPH. These results suggest that chronic treatment with MPH throughout adolescence in “normal” WKY rats increased impulsive choice and altered catecholamine development when compared to vehicle controls.
Keywords: methylphenidate; adolescent; tyrosine hydroxylase; chronic administration; prefrontal cortex; impulsivity; impulsive choice methylphenidate; adolescent; tyrosine hydroxylase; chronic administration; prefrontal cortex; impulsivity; impulsive choice
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Pardey, M.C.; Kumar, N.N.; Goodchild, A.K.; Clemens, K.J.; Homewood, J.; Cornish, J.L. Long-Term Effects of Chronic Oral Ritalin Administration on Cognitive and Neural Development in Adolescent Wistar Kyoto Rats. Brain Sci. 2012, 2, 375-404.

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