Cognitive effects of risperidone in children with autism and irritable behavior

Michael G. Aman, Jill A. Hollway, Christopher J. McDougle, Lawrence Scahill, Elaine Tierney, James T. McCracken, L. Eugene Arnold, Benedetto Vitiello, Louise Ritz, Allison Gavaletz, Pegeen Cronin, Naomi Swiezy, Courtney Wheeler, Kathleen Koenig, Jaswinder K. Ghuman, David J. Posey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The objective of this research was to explore the effects of risperidone on cognitive processes in children with autism and irritable behavior. Method: Thirty-eight children, ages 5-17 years with autism and severe behavioral disturbance, were randomly assigned to risperidone (0.5 to 3.5 mg/day) or placebo for 8 weeks. This sample of 38 was a subset of 101 subjects who participated in the clinical trial; 63 were unable to perform the cognitive tasks. A double-blind placebo-controlled parallel groups design was used. Dependent measures included tests of sustained attention, verbal learning, hand-eye coordination, and spatial memory assessed before, during, and after the 8-week treatment. Changes in performance were compared by repeated measures ANOVA. Results: Twenty-nine boys and 9 girls with autism and severe behavioral disturbance and a mental age ≥18 months completed the cognitive part of the study. No decline in performance occurred with risperidone. Performance on a cancellation task (number of correct detections) and a verbal learning task (word recognition) was better on risperidone than on placebo (without correction for multiplicity). Equivocal improvement also occurred on a spatial memory task. There were no significant differences between treatment conditions on the Purdue Pegboard (hand-eye coordination) task or the Analog Classroom Task (timed math test). Conclusion: Risperidone given to children with autism at doses up to 3.5 mg for up to 8 weeks appears to have no detrimental effect on cognitive performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-236
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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    Aman, M. G., Hollway, J. A., McDougle, C. J., Scahill, L., Tierney, E., McCracken, J. T., Arnold, L. E., Vitiello, B., Ritz, L., Gavaletz, A., Cronin, P., Swiezy, N., Wheeler, C., Koenig, K., Ghuman, J. K., & Posey, D. J. (2008). Cognitive effects of risperidone in children with autism and irritable behavior. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 18(3), 227-236. https://doi.org/10.1089/cap.2007.0133