Modafinil and memory: effects of modafinil on Morris water maze learning and Pavlovian fear conditioning

Behav Neurosci. 2009 Apr;123(2):257-66. doi: 10.1037/a0014366.


Modafinil has been shown to promote wakefulness and some studies suggest the drug can improve cognitive function. Because of many similarities, the mechanism of action may be comparable to classical psychostimulants, although the exact mechanisms of modafinil's actions in wakefulness and cognitive enhancement are unknown. The current study aims to further examine the effects of modafinil as a cognitive enhancer on hippocampus-dependent memory in mice. A high dose of modafinil (75 mg/kg ip) given before training improved acquisition on a Morris water maze. When given only before testing, modafinil did not affect water maze performance. We also examined modafinil (0.075 to 75 mg/kg) on Pavlovian fear conditioning. A low dose of pretraining modafinil (0.75 mg/kg) enhanced memory of contextual fear conditioning (tested off-drug 1 week later) whereas a high dose (75 mg/kg) disrupted memory. Pretraining modafinil did not affect cued conditioning at any dose tested, and immediate posttraining modafinil had no effect on either cued or contextual fear. These results suggest that modafinil's effects of memory are more selective than amphetamine or cocaine and specific to hippocampus-dependent memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fear*
  • Freezing Reaction, Cataleptic / drug effects
  • Maze Learning / drug effects*
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Modafinil
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Modafinil