Benzodiazepines and memory

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1984;18 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):45S-49S. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.1984.tb02581.x.


Benzodiazepines possess anterograde amnesic properties, disrupting both short-term and long-term memory function. The amount of amnesia is systematically related to dose effects and half-life differences among the benzodiazepines. Memory deficits are found for episodic, semantic, and iconic memory function. The deficits in long-term memory are probably the result of a disruption of consolidation of information in memory and not retrieval from memory. The disruption is produced by rapid sleep onset. Thus the long-term amnesia is really a retrograde effect of sleep and not the anterograde effect of the drug.

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia / chemically induced
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Electroencephalography
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Models, Psychological
  • Sleep / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Benzodiazepines