Biological bases of empathy and social cognition in patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A focus on treatment with psychostimulants

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

In recent years, there has been growing interest in investigating the effect of specific pharmacological treatments for ADHD not only on its core symptoms, but also on social skills in youths. This stands especially true for ADHD patients displaying impulsive aggressiveness and antisocial behaviors, being the comorbidity with Disruptive Behavior Disorders, one of the most frequently observed in clinical settings. This systematic review aimed to synthesize research findings on this topic following PRISMA guidelines and to identify gaps in current knowledge, future directions, and treatment implications. Search strategies included the following terms: ADHD; methylphenidate and other ADHD drugs; empathy, theory of mind and emotion recognition. Fulltext articles were retrieved and data from individual studies were collected. Thirteen studies were finally included in our systematic review. Ten studies assessing changes in empathy and/or theory of mind in patients with ADHD treated after pharmacological interventions were identified. Similarly, seven partially overlapping studies assessing changes in emotion recognition were retrieved. Despite a great heterogeneity in the methodological characteristics of the included studies, most of them reported an improvement in emphatic and theory of mind abilities in youths with ADHD treated with psychostimulants and nonstimulant drugs, as well as positive but less consistent results about emotion recognition performances.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1399
JournalBrain Sciences
Volume11
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • ADHD
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Emotion recognition
  • Empathy
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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