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Eur J Neurosci. 2004 Oct;20(8):2214-24.

Benzodiazepine impairment of perirhinal cortical plasticity and recognition memory.

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MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity, Department of Anatomy, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1 TD, UK.


Benzodiazepines, including lorazepam, are widely used in human medicine as anxiolytics or sedatives, and at higher doses can produce amnesia. Here we demonstrate that in rats lorazepam impairs both recognition memory and synaptic plastic processes (long-term depression and long-term potentiation). Both impairments are produced by actions in perirhinal cortex. The findings thus establish a mechanism by means of which benzodiazepines impair recognition memory. The findings also strengthen the hypotheses that the familiarity discrimination component of recognition memory is dependent on reductions in perirhinal neuronal responses when stimuli are repeated and that these response reductions are due to a plastic mechanism also used in long-term depression.

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