The effects of two benzodiazepines (alprazolam and bromazepam) on performance and event-related brain potentials (ERPs) in visual search and verbal recognition memory paradigms were tested in a placebo-controlled double-blind paradigm employing 12 young healthy subjects. Both drugs exerted similar effects on performance and electrophysiological measures. Reaction times and hit rates were adversely affected in both paradigms. The ERP pattern in the visual search experiment suggested an impairment in selective attention (reduction of Nl component) and of automatic feature registration (posterior N2 reduction). In the world recognition experiment a dramatic reduction of the N400 component was seen under benzodiazepines. This is interpreted as reflecting an impaired ability to perform context integration processes.

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