Effects of methylphenidate on sensitivity to reinforcement in children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: An application of the matching law

Laura K. Murray, Scott H. Kollins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The behavior of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been hypothesized to be the result of decreased sensitivity to consequences compared to typical children. The present study examined sensitivity to reinforcement in 2 boys diagnosed with ADHD using the matching law to provide more precise and quantitative measurement of this construct. This experiment also evaluated the effects of methylphenidate (MPH) on sensitivity to reinforcement of children with ADHD. Subjects completed math problems to earn tokens under four different variable-interval (VI) schedules of reinforcement presented in random order under both medicated and nonmedicated conditions. Results showed that, in the medicated condition, the matching functions for both subjects resulted in higher asymptotic values, indicating an overall elevation of behavior rate under these conditions. The variance accounted for by the matching law was also higher under the medicated conditions, suggesting that their behavior more closely tracked the changing rates of reinforcement while taking MPH compared to placebo. Under medicated conditions, the reinforcing efficacy of response-contingent tokens decreased. Results are discussed with respect to quantifying behavioral changes and the extent to which the drug interacts with prevailing contingencies (i.e., schedule values) to influence behavioral variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-591
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

Keywords

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Matching law
  • Methylphenidate
  • Sensitivity to reinforcement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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