Functional MRI detection of pharmacologically induced memory impairment

Reisa Sperling, Douglas Greve, Anders Dale, Ronald Killiany, Jennifer Holmes, H. Diana Rosas, Andrew Cocchiarella, Paul Firth, Bruce Rosen, Stephen Lake, Nicholas Lange, Carol Routledge, Marilyn Albert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


To examine alterations in brain activation associated with pharmacologically induced memory impairment, we used functional MRI (fMRI) to study the effects of lorazepam and scopolamine on a face-name associative encoding paradigm. Ten healthy young subjects were scanned on four occasions, 2 weeks apart; they were administered i.v. saline during two placebo-scanning sessions and then alternately administered i.v. lorazepam (1 mg) or scopolamine (0.4 mg) in a double-blind, randomized, cross-over design. Both the extent and magnitude of activation within anatomic regions of interest (ROIs) were examined to determine the reproducibility of activation in the placebo sessions and the regional specificity of the pharmacologic effects. Activation within all ROIs was consistent across the two placebo scans during the encoding of novel face-name pairs (compared with visual fixation). With the administration of either lorazepam or scopolamine, significant decreases were observed in both the extent and magnitude of activation within the hippocampal, fusiform, and inferior prefrontal ROIs, but no significant alterations in activation in the striate cortex were found. Both medications impaired performance on postscan memory measures, and significant correlations between memory performance and extent of activation were found in hippocampal and fusiform ROIs. These findings suggest that pharmacologic effects can be detected with fMRI by using a reproducible experimental paradigm and that medications that impair memory also diminish activation in specific brain regions thought to subserve complex memory processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-460
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 8 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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