Metamemory without the memory: are people aware of midazolam-induced amnesia?

Midazolam is a benzodiazepine which produces a dense anterograde amnesia, while permitting relatively well-preserved short-term memory, semantic retrieval, and other higher cognitive functions. Given these preserved abilities, we were interested in whether or not participants given midazolam would be aware of this anterograde amnesia.
In the present experiment, participants were given midazolam in one testing session and a saline placebo in another. Participants provided judgments-of-learning (JOLs) immediately following study of cue-target pairs. During the test phase of the experiment, confidence levels and feeling-of-knowing (FOK) judgments were collected.
Although cued recall performance was substantially impaired in the midazolam condition, mean JOLs were unaffected, indicating participants had little insight into their impairment during the study phase. Participants were relatively accurate in confidence levels and FOK judgments in the midazolam condition.
When studying items under the influence of midazolam, participants are unaware that their memory will be impaired. Implications for clinical practice and pharmacological studies of amnesia are discussed.
AuthorsPaul Merritt, Elliot Hirshman, John Hsu, Michael Berrigan
JournalPsychopharmacology (Psychopharmacology (Berl)) Vol. 177 Issue 3 Pg. 336-43 (Jan 2005) ISSN: 0033-3158 [Print] Germany
PMID15290003 (Publication Type: Clinical Trial, Comparative Study, Controlled Clinical Trial, Journal Article, Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.)
Chemical References
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Midazolam
  • Adult
  • Amnesia, Anterograde (chemically induced)
  • Awareness (drug effects, physiology)
  • Benzodiazepines (administration & dosage, pharmacokinetics)
  • Conscious Sedation (methods)
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Judgment (drug effects, physiology)
  • Learning (drug effects, physiology)
  • Mental Recall (drug effects, physiology)
  • Midazolam (administration & dosage, chemistry, pharmacokinetics)
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recognition (Psychology) (drug effects)
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome

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