Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Matuszewich, Leslie

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Stress tolerance (Psychology); Methylphenidate--Side effects; Mechanical chemistry; Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder--Effect of drugs on


Methylphenidate (MPH), or Ritalin, is the most commonly prescribed psychostimulant for the treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Research has established that MPH alleviates symptoms of ADHD short-term in humans, but research on the long-term effects after juvenile exposure has yielded mixed results. One possible long-term effect of MPH treatment is the alteration of neural circuits, especially dopaminergic and noradrenergic circuits projecting to the prefrontal cortex that are implicated in ADHD symptomatology and are the targets of MPH treatment. Long-term alterations of these circuits may impact coping with stress later life as these same circuits mediate the stress response. Specific regions that respond to stress include the infralimbic region of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate the effects of chronic juvenile MPH treatment on a later acute stress experience in adulthood. A single exposure to restraint stress increased the activation of FOS (a protein encoded by the Fos gene) immunoreactivity in the PFC and PVN, but did not alter anxiety-like behavior, in rats chronically treated as juveniles with MPH or vehicle. Further juvenile exposure to oral MPH did not alter the stress-induced increases in FOS in either brain region. The absence of long-term effects of MPH may be viewed in a positive light, as MPH did not render the rats more sensitive to stress.


Advisors: Leslie Matuszewich.||Committee members: Joseph Cheatwood; Angela Grippo; Douglas Wallace.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


vi, 74 pages




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