"Pleasure Deficit" In Brain May Contribute to ADHD

the Psychiatry Advisor take:

A new study of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse) indicates that those who suffer from the disease are unable to do everyday activities with ease because they suffer a pleasure deficit making it extremely difficult to complete such tasks.

The results, presented at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology, strongly suggest that the brain's pleasure and reward system play a key role in ADHD.

Research conducted by Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and colleagues found that those suffering from ADHD may have problems with dopamine levels in the brain. And since dopamine is critical to human’s reward system, a dopamine dysfunction might lead some with ADHD to lack the same pleasure sensations that other enjoy.

In the study, researchers looked at the brains of 20 adults (11 men, nine women) with ADHD over at least four weeks. Participants were either given increasing titrated amounts of lisdexamfetamine dimesylate or placebo.

Following a passive-avoidance learning task given to participants during the trial, brain scans showed that those who took lisdexamfetamine dimesylate has increased activity in brain areas associated with reward, especially the ventral striatum and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

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Adults and children with ADHD frequently report that they just can't seem to do the things that keep their lives running smoothly. 

Whether it's doing homework every day, remembering to pay bills, or keeping up-to-date with work projects, people with ADHD have more trouble completing tasks than average. Unsympathetic friends, family, and even clinicians occasionally advise people with ADHD to “just force yourself.”

A new study demonstrating how ADHD drug lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse) works in the brain, though, suggests that people with ADHD suffer a pleasure deficit that makes it challenging – if not impossible – to force themselves to complete tasks.

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