Metamemory without the memory: are people aware of midazolam-induced amnesia?

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2005 Jan;177(3):336-43. doi: 10.1007/s00213-004-1958-8. Epub 2004 Jul 28.


Rationale: Midazolam is a benzodiazepine which produces a dense anterograde amnesia, while permitting relatively well-preserved short-term memory, semantic retrieval, and other higher cognitive functions. Given these preserved abilities, we were interested in whether or not participants given midazolam would be aware of this anterograde amnesia.

Method: In the present experiment, participants were given midazolam in one testing session and a saline placebo in another. Participants provided judgments-of-learning (JOLs) immediately following study of cue-target pairs. During the test phase of the experiment, confidence levels and feeling-of-knowing (FOK) judgments were collected.

Results: Although cued recall performance was substantially impaired in the midazolam condition, mean JOLs were unaffected, indicating participants had little insight into their impairment during the study phase. Participants were relatively accurate in confidence levels and FOK judgments in the midazolam condition.

Conclusion: When studying items under the influence of midazolam, participants are unaware that their memory will be impaired. Implications for clinical practice and pharmacological studies of amnesia are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amnesia, Anterograde / chemically induced*
  • Awareness / drug effects
  • Awareness / physiology
  • Benzodiazepines / administration & dosage
  • Benzodiazepines / pharmacokinetics
  • Conscious Sedation / methods
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Judgment / drug effects
  • Judgment / physiology
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Learning / physiology
  • Mental Recall / drug effects*
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Midazolam / administration & dosage
  • Midazolam / chemistry
  • Midazolam / pharmacokinetics*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Benzodiazepines
  • Midazolam