Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Why does your skin shrivel?
Name: Bryan Bertoglio
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

Why do amphetamines commonly have opposite effects in children and adults? I have always wondered since learning that Ritalin which is commonly given to children with a hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder acts as a stimulant in people after adolescence. Just curious if anyone knew why...


My understanding of the affects of Ritalin is that children who are hyperactive are exhibiting a behavior that is caused by their brain working too slow. They cannot concentrate because the world is simply moving too fast for them to keep up. Ritalin allows their synapses to fire more quickly, and they can then "keep up" with their environment, and the behavior problem ceases. I understand that many children grow out of the hyperactivity problem, and it may be that the brain eventually is able to function quickly enough to keep up. In this case, an amphetamine would make a now normal brain work too fast and the behavior would again appear hyperactive. I cannot remember where I read all of this, and if I have some facts wrong, I hope that someone will please correct me.


Click here to return to the Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory