PloS one

Effects of acute methamphetamine on emotional memory formation in humans: encoding vs consolidation.

PMID 25679982


Understanding how stimulant drugs affect memory is important for understanding their addictive potential. Here we examined the effects of acute d-methamphetamine (METH), administered either before (encoding phase) or immediately after (consolidation phase) study on memory for emotional and neutral images in healthy humans. Young adult volunteers (N = 60) were randomly assigned to either an encoding group (N = 29) or a consolidation group (N = 31). Across three experimental sessions, they received placebo and two doses of METH (10, 20 mg) either 45 min before (encoding) or immediately after (consolidation) viewing pictures of emotionally positive, neutral, and negative scenes. Memory for the pictures was tested two days later, under drug-free conditions. Half of the sample reported sleep disturbances following the high dose of METH, which affected their memory performance. Therefore, participants were classified as poor sleepers (less than 6 hours; n = 29) or adequate sleepers (6 or more hours; n = 31) prior to analyses. For adequate sleepers, METH (20 mg) administered before encoding significantly improved memory accuracy relative to placebo, especially for emotional (positive and negative), compared to neutral, stimuli. For poor sleepers in the encoding group, METH impaired memory. METH did not affect memory in the consolidation group regardless of sleep quality. These results extend previous findings showing that METH can enhance memory for salient emotional stimuli but only if it is present at the time of study, where it can affect both encoding and consolidation. METH does not appear to facilitate consolidation if administered after encoding. The study also demonstrates the important role of sleep in memory studies.