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Drug Research


Studies have shown the ability of benzodiazepine drugs to cause memory loss in animals and humans. Midazolam is a benzodiazepine commonly administered intravenously during surgical procedures because it reacts rapidly, causes anterograde amnesia, and has few side effects. It has also been used in palliative medicine where, among others, an oral route has been employed for chronic administration of the drug. The current study evaluated the effects of chronic orally administered midazolam on spatial working memory and procedural memory in control and experimental female rats over a threeweek experimental period utilizing the Morris water maze. Sample and test run times to a submerged platform in the maze were recorded daily. In addition, activity wheels attached to each cage were employed to monitor daily circadian activity of the animals. Spatial working memory was not impaired in either group. However, procedural memory amnesia occurred in animals receiving the drug indicative of a consolidation or retrieval problem. Concerning circadian rhythms, a phase-shift was noted in experimental animals possibly indicating that time of day of drug administration is important. The findings of the present study could shed insight into altered reactions observed in humans who have received midazolam as a component of treatment in palliative medicine.