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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004 Mar;77(3):547-55.

The cognitive-enhancing properties of modafinil are limited in non-sleep-deprived middle-aged volunteers.

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  • 1Psychopharmacology Research Unit, Centre for Neuroscience Research, King's College London, London, UK.


Modafinil is a selective wakefulness-promoting agent that has been shown to enhance cognitive performance under conditions of sleep deprivation but which has equivocal effects in normal young volunteers. In a double-blind parallel group design study, 45 non-sleep-deprived middle-aged volunteers (20 men and 25 women, aged 50-67 years) were randomly allocated to receive two capsules containing placebo, 100 or 200 mg modafinil, and 3 h later they completed 100 mm visual analogue scales of mood and bodily symptoms, before and after an extensive battery of cognitive tests [pen and paper and the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB)]. There were no significant treatment-associated changes in ratings of mood or bodily symptoms and no significant effects on most of the cognitive tests used in this study. The group treated with modafinil (200 mg) was significantly faster in a simple colour naming of dots and also significantly better in a test of constructional ability (Clock Drawing Test) compared with the placebo group. However, subjects in the 200-mg group also made significantly more total errors in the Intra/Extradimensional Set Shift (ID/ED) task than both the other groups. Thus, this study found limited evidence of cognitive-enhancing properties of modafinil in healthy middle-aged volunteers.

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