A new study shows that healthy people who take attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs experience a surge in the neurotransmitter glutamate in key parts of the brain. And that increase in glutamate is associated with subsequent changes in positive emotion.
The findings, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, not only provide clues about how these drugs affect healthy brains, they also hint at a previously undiscovered link between glutamate and mood.
“This is the first time that an increase in brain glutamate in response to psychostimulant drugs has been demonstrated in humans,” said Tara White, an assistant professor in the Brown University School of Public Health and lead author of the new study. “That’s important since glutamate is the major neurotransmitter responsible for excitation in the brain, and affects learning and memory.”