State anxiety and memory performance : studies with anxiolytic drugs in normal subjects
Following an introduction into areas of memory and anxiety, detailed critical reviews of both anxiety and diazepam effects in memory are presented. Although detrimental effects of arousal have been frequently observed, the effects of state anxiety have not been so systmatically studied. Furthermore, although the deleterious effect of diazepam has often been observed in memory performance, one would expect a facilitative effect with subject stratified for symptoms of high anxiety. The first two experiments investigated the effects of diazepam in anxious and nonanxious volunteers in two different memory paradigms. In these experiments, encoding in short term memory and retrieval from semantic memory were both adversely affected by anxiety, and diazepam ameliorated this effect under certain test conditions. It seemed possible that the use of another group of anxiolytic agents whose mainly peripheral mode of anxiolytic activity should mimic the centrally-mediated facilitative effect of the drug by indirectly reducing the feedback of peripheral stimuli towards the central state of anxiety. This was investigated in Experiment 3 using an identical procedure to Experiment 1. Oxprenolol did not facilitate the performance of anxious subjects which either indicated that the facilitative effects of diazepam may be affecting underlying mechanisms more directly, or that an absence of heightened autonomic activity in normal subjects was responsible for these results. Experiment 4 repeated the procedure of earlier experiments in order to examine the robustness of the anxiety difference, and although not replicated several methodological explanations were given. The remaining two experiments explored the possibility that the drug-anxiety interactions observed previously were directly attributable to differences in strategy usage, flexibility and preferences underlying the two anxiety groups. There was no direct evidence of differences between anxious and nonanxious subjects and alternative explanations for these anxiety differences were discussed.