Midazolam amnesia and short-term/working memory processes

Consciousness and Cognition 15 (1):54-63 (2006)
Abstract
We examined whether midazolam impairs short-term/working memory processes. We hypothesize that prior dissociations in midazolam’s effects on short-term/working memory tasks and episodic memory tasks arise because midazolam has a larger effect on episodic memory processes than on short-term/working memory processes. To examine these issues, .03 mg/kg of participant’s bodyweight of midazolam was administered in a double-blind placebo-controlled within-participant design. Performance on the digit span and category generation/recall tasks was examined. The results of Experiment 1 demonstrated that: midazolam impaired performance on the digit span task; midazolam did not impair performance on the category generation task; midazolam impaired performance on the category recall task; and midazolam’s effect on category recall was four times as large as its effect on digit span. The results of Experiment 2 demonstrated that midazolam did not impair digit span performance when the digit span task was administered at a later time. These results suggest that midazolam can impair short-term/working memory processes, but these effects are substantially smaller than midazolam’s effect on episodic memory processes. Moreover, they demonstrate that conscious awareness of materials during study is not sufficient to produce episodic memory
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