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> Propranolol Research
post Dec 23, 2008, 02:17 PM
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Propranolol on Cognition

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1991 Jul;30(7):446-8.
The effect of beta blockade on stress-induced cognitive dysfunction in adolescents.
Faigel HC. University Health Services, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02254-9110.

Test anxiety is severely disabling to students whose fear of examinations causes cognitive dysfunction that paralyzes their thinking the way stage fright impairs actors ability to act. In studies using subjective evaluations among actors and musicians, beta-blockade relieved stage fright and has been used informally to treat test anxiety in students without objective measures of effectiveness. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) was chosen as an objective test instrument to confirm the effect of beta-blockade on test anxiety and performance. Thirty-two high school students who had already taken the SAT before enrolling in this study and who had stress-induced cognitive dysfunction on exams were given 40 mg of propranolol one hour before they retook those tests. Mean SAT scores with beta-blockade were 130 points higher than on the initial SAT done before entering the study without medication (p = less than .01). A single dose of propranolol immediately before the SAT permitted improved performance in students prone to cognitive dysfunction due to test anxiety.

Neuroreport. 1999 Sep 9;10(13):2763-7.
Noradrenergic modulation of cognitive flexibility in problem solving.

Beversdorf DQ, Hughes JD, Steinberg BA, Lewis LD, Heilman KM. Department of Neurology, Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus 43210, USA.

Stress causes impaired performance on tests of creativity. Drugs that block beta-adrenergic receptors improve test performance in patients with test anxiety. Furthermore, catecholamine precursors (L-DOPA) reduce the flexibility of semantic networks. Our study investigated the effect of noradrenergic system modulation on cognitive flexibility in problem solving. Eighteen normal subjects undertook three problem solving tasks (number series, shape manipulation and anagrams) 45 min after propranolol, placebo and ephedrine. On the task that appeared to rely most heavily on cognitive flexibility (anagrams), subjects who were most able to solve these problems demonstrated significantly shorter solution times (logarithmic scores) after propranolol than after ephedrine. This suggested that the noradrenergic system exerts a modulatory effect on cognitive flexibility in problem solving.

Cogn Behav Neurol. 2004 Jun;17(2):93-7.
Effect of anxiolytics on cognitive flexibility in problem solving.

Silver JA, Hughes JD, Bornstein RA, Beversdorf DQ. Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.

OBJECTIVE: Our purpose is to examine the effect of different classes of anxiolytics on cognitive flexibility. BACKGROUND: Situational stressors and anxiety impede performance on "creativity" tests requiring cognitive flexibility. Noradrenergic agents have been shown to modulate cognitive flexibility as assessed by performance on anagrams. To determine whether these findings on noradrenergic modulation of cognitive flexibility are specific to the noradrenergic system or are a nonspecific anxiety effect, we compared the effects of propranolol, lorazepam, and placebo on the anagram task. METHODS: Subjects attended 3 test sessions. Prior to each session, subjects were given 1 of the 3 drugs. As in previous research, the natural log of the solution latency of each test item was summed for each test session and compared across drug conditions. RESULTS: For subjects able to solve the anagrams, solution times after propranolol, but not lorazepam, were significantly lower than after placebo. CONCLUSIONS: Therefore, this suggests that the phenomenon of noradrenergic modulation of cognitive flexibility does not result from a nonspecific anxiolytic effect, but rather is specific to the noradrenergic system.

Neuroreport. 2002 Dec 20;13(18):2505-7.
Central beta-adrenergic modulation of cognitive flexibility.

Beversdorf DQ, White DM, Chever DC, Hughes JD, Bornstein RA. Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Health Science Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA.

Situational stressors and anxiety impede performance on creativity tests requiring cognitive flexibility. Preliminary research revealed better performance on a task requiring cognitive flexibility, the anagram task, after propranolol (beta-adrenergic antagonist) than after ephedrine (beta-adrenergic agonist). However, propranolol and ephedrine have both peripheral and central beta-adrenergic effects. In order to determine whether noradrenergic modulation of cognitive flexibility is a centrally or peripherally mediated phenomenon, we compared the effects of propranolol (peripheral and central beta-blocker), nadolol (peripheral beta-blocker), and placebo on anagram task performance. Solution latency scores for each subject were compared across the drug conditions. Anagram solution latency scores after propranolol were significantly lower than after nadolol. This suggests a centrally mediated modulatory influence of the noradrenergic system on cognitive flexibility.
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