Acute effects of ketamine on memory systems
and psychotic symptoms in healthy volunteers

Morgan CJ, Mofeez A, Brandner B, Bromley L, Curran HV.
Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit,
Sub-Department of Clinical Health Psychology,
University College London, London, England.
[email protected]
Neuropsychopharmacology. 2004 Jan;29(1):208-18.


N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists have been demonstrated to induce schizophrenia-like symptoms and cognitive impairment in humans. The NMDA receptor has been strongly implicated in memory, but research to date on the effects of NMDA antagonists has examined only some aspects of human memory functions. This study used a double-blind, placebo-controlled, independent groups design with 54 healthy volunteers to examine the effects of infusions of two doses (0.4, 0.8 mg/kg) of the NMDA antagonist ketamine upon the five human memory systems, aspects of executive functioning and schizophrenia-like and dissociative symptoms. Ketamine produced a dose-dependent impairment to episodic and working memory and a slowing of semantic processing. Ketamine also impaired recognition memory and procedural learning. Attention, perceptual priming and executive functioning were not affected following the drug. In addition, ketamine induced schizophrenia-like and dissociative symptoms, which were not correlated with the cognitive measures. These data suggest that, in humans, ketamine produces a selective pattern of impairments to working, episodic, and procedural memory but not to perceptual priming, attention or aspects of executive functioning.

Beyond the K-hole
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Ketamine and cognition
Anaesthesia and anaesthetics
Ketamine: long-term outcomes
Ketamine as an antidepressant
Ketamine: medical and non-medical use
The role of ketamine in pain management
Low-dose ketamine as a fast-onset, long-acting antidepressant