A team of researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at Duke University have found out how Ritalin and similar drugs can manage to have a soothing effect on the brain -- by boosting the brain’s serotonin levels.
As per Marc Caron, an HHMI researcher at Duke University Medical Center, who is also the author of the above mentioned study, when serotonin levels in the brain are increased, it helps restore the fine balance between the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin and in effect manages to keep hyperactivity under control. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD affects close to 6 percent of all school-aged children, who exhibit symptoms like poor concentration, hyperactivity, impulsiveness and restlessness.
According to HHMI, the experiments that they are conducting show that there has to be correct balance between dopamine and serotonin. That is the key, as if dopamine and serotonin are not balanced, it may result in hyperactivity.
Since the brain has a total of fifteen different types of receptors and all of them bind to serotonin, the HHMI research team is trying to find out exactly which specific serotonin receptors intercede with the effects of Ritalin. The researchers are hoping that they will be able to replace Ritalin with another compound that will target a single subset of the receptors.
The researchers are now hopeful that a new generation of compounds that can interrelate more explicitly with the serotonin system will turn out to be more effective and hopefully safer for treating those with ADHD.
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