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The Effects of a Single Dose of Lorazepam on Memory and Behavioural Learning (2002)

The Effects of a Single Dose of Lorazepam on Memory and Behavioural Learning (2002)

  1. Jatelka
    J Psychopharmacol. 2002 Dec;16(4):345-54.

    Matthews A (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/e...bmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVAbstractPlusDrugs1), Kirkby KC (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/e...bmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVAbstractPlusDrugs1), Martin F (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/e...bmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVAbstractPlusDrugs1).
    To assess the influence of lorazepam on memory and behavioural learning, a non-clinical sample of undergraduate psychology students (n = 24), received lorazepam (2.5 mg) or placebo orally. Pre-drug and post-drug neuropsychological assessment comprised the Rey auditory verbal learning test, verbal fluency test, digit span and word stem completion. Relative to placebo, lorazepam induced a marked deficit in delayed free-recall, perceptual priming, and written word fluency, with preservation of digit span. Behavioural learning was assessed on a computer-aided vicarious exposure treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder, administered post-drug, and repeated 1 week later, drug free. Compared to placebo, lorazepam treated participants enacted 51% less exposure activity on the behavioural learning task post-drug. Whilst both groups enacted increased exposure at the drug-free session, exposure activity was 49% less in the lorazepam group, indicating a carryover effect of the impaired learning under drug 1 week before. There were no significant differences between lorazepam and placebo on indices of overall activity on the program. These results suggest lorazepam-induced impairment in the ability to learn behavioural strategies, possibly due to impaired acquisition of information into long-term episodic memory. These findings suggest caution in the co-prescribing of benzodiazepines in people undergoing behavioural therapies in clinical populations.