ADHD News & Research

Dementia Treatment May Improve Executive Functions

A medication regimen previously approved to treat dementia could improve executive functioning in adults with ADHD, according to a new study.

June 18, 2015

The vast majority of children and adults with ADHD also have trouble with executive functions, the cognitive and mental abilities that help people engage in goal-directed action. These deficits can cause time blindness, plus difficulty organizing, scheduling, planning, and completing tasks. To date, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been used — usually in concert with an ADHD medication — to treat executive function deficits. Now, scientists are hopeful a new drug may be added to the list of treatment options.

In a small clinical trial, 26 participants aged 18 to 57 with ADHD and executive function deficits were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or a memantine treatment previously approved to treat dementia. Researchers found that when participants received adjunctive memantine (Namenda, Forest Laboratories, Inc) with osmotic release oral system-methylphenidate (OROS-MPH), executive functions improved during the 18-week trial. The study results were presented in Athens, Greece, at the 12th World Congress of Biological Psychiatry.

More research is needed, but this is encouraging news for adults with ADHD who are frustrated with executive function deficits that cause them to forget appointments, lose track of personal items, zone out during conversations, miss deadlines, and fail to complete multi-step processes. Even when they try very hard, they fall short because of a malfunction in the prefrontal cortex. These executive function problems were previously difficult to treat with medication.