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Psych Roundup

June 16, 2006

Scientists have finally come up with an explanation for how Ritalin works.


How Ritalin calms kids down. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Ritalin is the drug most prescribed to help hyperactive children, and paradoxically, it’s a stimulant. Doctors have long wondered how a type of speed helps kids slow down, and now researchers working with rats have an answer. They found that Ritalin boosted the activity of brain cells that process primary nerve signals coming from the rats’ whiskers, and it dampened the transmission of non-primary signals. In other words, Ritalin does increase brain activity, but the activity is focused and freed from distractions.

In other psychology news, Princeton researchers have found that people investing in the stock market tend to choose companies with names that are easy to pronounce. They even pick stocks with pronouncable three-letter ticker codes, like BAL, over ticker codes like BCL, which can’t be pronounced.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.