Ritalin, Adderall and Similar Medications Cause Brain to Focus on Benefits of Work, Not Costs

Common assumption has long held that Ritalin, Adderall and similar drugs work by helping people focus. Yet a new study from a team led in part by Brown University researchers shows that these medications — usually prescribed to individuals diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but often used by otherwise healthy people as a “study aid” — actually work by directing the brain to fix its attention on the benefits, rather than the costs, of completing difficult tasks. The study, published in the journal Science, marks the first time that scientists have examined precisely how stimulants such as Ritalin alter cognitive function. Learn More