Drug-induced amnesia hurts recognition, but only for memories that can be unitized.

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Abstract or Description

Midazolam is a drug that creates temporary anterograde amnesia. In a within-subjects, double-blind experiment, participants studied a list of stimuli after receiving an injection of midazolam in one session and after receiving saline in another session. The lists consisted of three types of stimuli: words, photographs, and abstract pictures. Recognition memory was tested at the end of each session. Memory was reliably poorer in the midazolam condition than the saline condition, but this amnesic effect was significantly smaller for pictorial stimuli than for words and almost nonexistent for abstract pictures. We argue that the less familiar the stimulus, the less likely it is to be associated with an experimental context. These data bolster our claim that unitization increases the chances of episodic binding and that drug-induced amnesia prevents episodic binding regardless of unitization.




Published In

Psychological science, 17, 7, 562-567.