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The effect of midazolam on implicit and explicit memory in category exemplar production and category cued recall

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Transfer-appropriate processing theory (Roediger, Weldon, & Challis, 1989) proposes that dissociations between performance on explicit and implicit memory tests arise because these tests often rely on different types of information processing (e.g., perceptual processing vs conceptual processing). This perspective predicts that implicit and explicit memory tasks that rely primarily on conceptual processing should show comparable results, not dissociations. Numerous studies have demonstrated such similarities. It is, however, possible that these results arise from explicit memory contamination of performance on implicit memory tasks. To address this issue, an experiment was conducted in which participants were administered the sedative midazolam prior to study. Midazolam is known to create a temporary, but dense, period of anterograde amnesia. The effects of blocking stimulus materials by semantic category at study and generation at study were investigated on category exemplar production and category-cued recall. The results of this study demonstrated a dissociation of the effects of midazolam on category exemplar production and category-cued recall. Specifically, midazolam reduced the effect of blocking stimulus materials in category-cued recall, but not in category exemplar production. The differential effect of midazolam on explicit and implicit memory is at odds with transfer-appropriate processing theory and suggests that theories of memory must distinguish the roles of different types of conceptual processing on implicit and explicit memory tests.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, USA 2: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA 3: George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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