The Age of Ritalin: How Does It Work?

For a drug that's been used for more than a half-century, we know surprisingly little about how Ritalin acts on the brain or why it helps children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder focus. For that matter, even ADHD is still something of a mystery to doctors, who speak of it sometimes as if it were a single condition and sometimes as if it were a broad range of problems. Researchers suspect that the disorder stems from an inadequate supply of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain--a hypothesis that is supported in part by the fact that Ritalin boosts dopamine levels. But proof of...

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