Sedative effects and impaired learning and recall after single oral doses of lorazepam

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1986 May;39(5):526-9. doi: 10.1038/clpt.1986.90.


Seven healthy subjects received oral placebo, 1.5 mg lorazepam, or 3.0 mg lorazepam in a single-dose, three-way crossover study. Plasma lorazepam concentrations and subjects' self-rated sedative effects were evaluated at multiple points during 24 hours after each dose. Information acquisition and recall was studied by use of a 16-item word list at 3 and 24 hours after dosing. Lorazepam plasma concentrations were proportional to dose. Self-rated sedation was maximal 2 to 3 hours after lorazepam dosing, persisted for 8 hours, and was dose dependent in intensity; no significant sedation occurred with placebo. At 3 hours after placebo dosing, subjects learned a mean 96% of words presented during six trials; this was reduced to 79% and 62% after lorazepam, 1.5 and 3.0 mg, respectively (F = 6.2; P less than 0.02). Twenty-four hours after placebo, subjects recalled 92% of words presented the previous day, then improved to 99% after six relearning trials. After 1.5 and 3.0 mg lorazepam, however, only 52% and 44% of words were initially recalled from the previous day. Thus single oral doses of lorazepam within the therapeutic range produce dose-dependent sedation and impairment of information acquisition and recall.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / drug effects*
  • Lorazepam / blood
  • Lorazepam / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Mental Recall / drug effects*


  • Lorazepam