The early history of the neuroscience of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

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Research on the neurobiology and pharmacotherapy of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has grown exponentially since 1980. A reasonable question is whether this research has improved our understanding and treatment of ADHD. This article describes relevant developments that took place roughly between 1900 and 1970. During this time, the efficacy of stimulant therapy for the disorder was established and the symptoms of ADHD were linked to many possible nervous system disorders including in the brain-stem, reticular formation, diencephalon, basal ganglia, frontal lobes, and cortex. In 1970, the catecholamine hypothesis of ADHD was proposed. It is concluded that early theories about the neurobiologic basis of ADHD anticipated core ideas of modern theory.

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Journal of the history of the neurosciences

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