, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 309–314

Scopolamine state-dependent memory processes in man

  • Ronald C. Petersen
Original Investigations


Scopolamine state-dependent learning was investigated in man using four learning and recall tasks. Twenty-eight subjects performed the four tasks on the first day of the 2 day experiment under either the influence of the drug (5 μg/kg of scopolamine administered IV) or a placebo and tried to recall the material on the second day in either the same or altered drug state. State-dependent learning theory predicts that those subjects in the same drug state on both days should recall more material than those who had their drug condition changed. Results confirmed this prediction for the two recall tasks which did not involve recall cues or prompts but not for the tasks involving memory acids. This implies that the drug state has memory cueing properties of its own and that recall can be enhanced either by restoring the drug state which existed at the time of learning or by providing external prompts.

Key words

Scopolamine Anticholinergics State-dependent learning Memory 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barry, H. III, Kubena, R. K.: Discriminative stimubus characteristics of alcohol, marihuana and atropine. In: Drug addiction: Experimental pharmacology, vol. I. J. M. Singh, L. Miller, H. Lal, eds., pp. 3–16. Mt. Kisco: Futura 1972Google Scholar
  2. Battig, W. F., Montague, W. E.: Category norms for verbal items in 56 categories: A replication and extension of the Connecticut category norms. J. Exp. Psychol. (Monogr.) 80, 1–46 (1969)Google Scholar
  3. Ghoneim, M. M., Mewaldt, S. P.: Effects of diazepam and scopolamine on storage, retrieval and organizational processes in memory. Psychopharmacologia (Berl.) 44, 257–262 (1975)Google Scholar
  4. Greenblatt, D. J., Shader, R. I.: Anticholinergics. N. Engl. J. Med. 288, 1215–1219 (1973)Google Scholar
  5. Hill, H. E., Jones, B. E., Bell, E. C.: State dependent control of discrimination by morphine and pentobarbital. Psychopharmacologia (Berl.) 22, 305–313 (1971)Google Scholar
  6. Kirk, R. E.: Experimental design: Procedures for the behavioral sciences, pp. 79–81. Belmont: Brooks/Cole 1968Google Scholar
  7. Miller, R. G.: Simultaneous statistical inference, pp. 67–70. New York: McGraw-Hill 1966Google Scholar
  8. Overton, D. A.: State-dependent or “dissociated” learning produced with pentobarbital. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 57, 3–12 (1964)Google Scholar
  9. Overton, D. A.: State-dependent learning produced by depressant and atropine-like drugs. Psychopharmacologia (Berl.) 10, 6–31 (1966)Google Scholar
  10. Overton, D. A.: Dissociated learning in drug states (state dependent learning). In: Psychopharmacology: A review of progress, 1957–1967, D. H. Efron, J. O. Cole, J. Levine, J. R. Wittenborn, eds., pp. 918–930. Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office 1968Google Scholar
  11. Overton, D. A.: Control of T-maze choice by nicotinic, antinicotinic, and antimuscarinic drugs. In: Proceedings of the 77th annual convention of the American Psychological Association 4, 869–870. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association 1969Google Scholar
  12. Overton, D. A.: State-dependent learning produced by alcohol and its relevance to alcoholism. In: The biology of alcoholism: Physiology and behavior, vol. II, B. Kissin, H. Begleiter, eds., pp. 193–217. New York: Plenum 1972Google Scholar
  13. Overton, D. A.: State-dependent learning produced by addicting drugs. In: Opiate addiction: Origins and treatment, S. Fisher, A. M. Freedman, eds., pp. 61–75. Washington, D. C.: Winston and Sons 1973Google Scholar
  14. Paivio, A., Yuille, J. C., Madigan, S. A.: Concreteness, imagery, and meaningfulness values for 925 nouns. J. Exp. Psychol. (Monogr.) 76, 1–25 (1968)Google Scholar
  15. Pert, A., Avis, H. H.: Dissociation between scopolamine and mecamylamine during fear conditioning in rats. Physiol. Psychol. 2, 111–116 (1974)Google Scholar
  16. Petersen, R. C.: Imagery and cued recall: Concreteness or context? J. Exp. Psuchol. 102, 841–844 (1974)Google Scholar
  17. Petersen, R. C.: Scopolamine induced learning failures in man. Psychopharmacology 52, 283–289 (1977a)Google Scholar
  18. Petersen, R. C.: Retrieval failures in alcohol state-dependent learning. Psychopharmacology 55, 141–146 (1977b)Google Scholar
  19. Safer, D. J., Allen, R. P.: The central effects of scopolamine in man. Biol. Psychiatry 3, 347–355 (1971)Google Scholar
  20. Weingartner, H., Adefris, W., Eich, J. E., Murphy, D. L.: Encodingimagery specificity in alcohol state-dependent learning. J. Exp. Psychol. (Hum. Learn.) 2, 83–87 (1976)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald C. Petersen
    • 1
  1. 1.Mayo Medical SchoolRochesterU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations