Current theories of dopaminergic and noradrenergic mechanisms, which are thought to be of importance in the regulation of attention are reviewed. A biphasic model of dopaminergic function is described, in which tonic dopamine exerts a suppressive influence on subcortical dopamine systems by altering tonic/phasic dopaminergic relationships. Noradrenergic mechanisms are of importance in modulating sensory processing at the prefrontal cortical level. The work of Silberstein and colleagues utilizing Steady-State Visually Evoked Potential, during the course of an A-X Continuous Performance Task enables examination of the spatial distribution and dynamics of electrical brain activity during the task. The maintenance of activation in the interval between A and X provides a measure of working memory, thought to be related to prefrontal-parietal activation, which is facilitated by administration of methylphenidate to children with ADHD, suggesting that working memory may be a core deficiency in children with ADHD. While tonic dopamine activity in vental striatum/accumbens gates inhibitory activity, dorsolateral prefrontal-parietal connections allow maintenance of working memory required for goal completion.
correspondence to this author at the Avoca Clinic, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW 2031, Australia