Effects of triazolam on brain activity during episodic memory encoding: A PET study

Miriam Z. Mintzer, Roland R. Griffiths, Carlo Contoreggi, Alane S. Kimes, Edythe D. London, Monique Ernst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


It is well documented that acute administration of the benzodiazepine hypnotic drug triazolam (Halcion®) impairs episodic memory encoding. We examined the neuroanatomical substrates of this effect in healthy adult volunteers using a double-blind, within-subject design. Following oral capsule administration (0.25 mg/70 kg triazolam or placebo), regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was measured using positron emission tomography (PET) with 15O-H2O during the performance of semantic categorization, orthographic categorization, and visual fixation (resting) tasks. rCBF associated with episodic memory encoding was measured by the difference in rCBF during the orthographic categorization task relative to that during the semantic categorization task. Results in the placebo condition (n = 9) replicated those of previous nonpharmacological encoding studies (activation in the left prefrontal cortex, cerebellum, anterior cingulate cortex, temporal cortex, and occipital cortex). Relative to placebo, results in the triazolam condition (n = 6) revealed significantly impaired memory performance, and deactivation during encoding in a subset of areas shown previously to be associated with encoding (anterior cingulate cortex, cerebellum, and precuneus). Results are discussed in relation to triazolam's effects on mnemonic versus attentional processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)744-756
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


  • Benzodiazepines
  • Encoding
  • Episodic memory
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Regional cerebral blood flow
  • Triazolam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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