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FRIDAY, April 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Ritalin, a drug used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, may help people maintain self-control so they can stick to a diet or a boring project, a new study suggests.
Despite the findings, you shouldn't start using Ritalin to assist your self-control, the study authors cautioned. Ritalin is a powerful psychiatric drug that should only be taken with a prescription.
Previous research suggests that maintaining self-control for long stretches of time can deplete that attribute, said the authors of the U.S. National Institutes of Health-funded study.
"It is as if self-control is a limited resource that 'runs out' if it is used too much," lead researcher Chandra Sripada, of the University of Michigan, said in a journal news release. "If we could figure out the brain mechanisms that cause regulatory depletion, then maybe we could find a way to prevent it."
The study, published April 22 in the journal Psychological Science, included 108 adults. They took either Ritalin or a placebo an hour before they attempted two consecutive computer-based tasks that tested their self-control. The participants who took Ritalin retained higher levels of self-control in the second test than those who took the placebo.
The results indicate that Ritalin can help prevent depletion of self-control, the researchers said. The drug may do this by giving a boost to specific brain circuits that are normally weakened after maintaining self-control for long periods.
"We want to use this research to better understand the brain mechanisms that lead to depletion of self-control, and what interventions -- pharmacological or behavioral -- might prevent this," Sripada said.
-- Robert Preidt
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