RATIONALE: The wake-promoting agent modafinil selectively improves neuropsychological task performance in healthy volunteers, in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and in schizophrenia. We examined whether modafinil induced similar effects in individuals with Huntington's disease (HD). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty patients with genetically proven, mild HD participated in a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled cross-over study using a single 200 mg dose of modafinil. Patients undertook a battery of neuropsychological tests including measures of cognition and mood. RESULTS: Modafinil increased alertness as indexed by visual analogue scales. Modafinil did not elicit any significant improvements in cognitive function or mood. Modafinil had a deleterious effect on visual recognition and working memory. CONCLUSIONS: Two hundred milligrams acute modafinil administration did improve alertness but did not improve cognition or mood in patients with mild HD. A multiple dose, chronic administration study is needed before the potential clinical utility of modafinil in HD is discounted.
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