Psychopharmacology

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 23–27 | Cite as

Physostigmine: Effects on cognition and affect in normal subjects

  • Kenneth L. Davis
  • Leo E. Hollister
  • John Overall
  • Anne Johnson
  • Karen Train
Human Pharmacology

Abstract

Physostigmine was given intravenously to a total dose of 3 mg to 13 subjects; a placebo of 0.25 N saline was given intravenously to 10 other subjects; both groups received 1 mg of methscopolamine bromide subcutaneously preceding the intravenous infusions. A “physostigmine syndrome” consisting of decreased speech, slowed thoughts, mild sedation, expressionless faces, nausea, and decreased spontaneous activity was evident following doses of 1.5 to 2.0 mg of physostigmine. The capacity of short-term memory (STM) as measured by digit span tasks was significantly less for the subjects who received physostigmine than for the subjects who received placebo. No difference was observed between the two groups on tasks of consolidation from STM to long-term memory (LTM).

Subiects who received physostigmine did not significantly differ from subjects who received placebo in their mood. However, two subjects in the physostigmine group, and no subjects in the saline group became tearful and depressed.

Key words

Physostigmine Short-term memory Long-term memory Depression Mania 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth L. Davis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Leo E. Hollister
    • 1
    • 2
  • John Overall
    • 3
  • Anne Johnson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Karen Train
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Medicine and PsychiatryStanford UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Palo Alto Veterans Administration HospitalPala AltoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Neurology and PsychiatryUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalveston

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