Oral physostigmine and impaired memory in adults with brain injury

D. D. Cardenas, A. Mclean, L. Farrell-Roberts, L. Baker, M. Brooke, J. Haselkorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of physostigmine, a cholinergic agonist, on memory loss after traumatic brain injury (TBI), as compared to placebo or scopolamine, a cholinergic antagonist, using a double-blind, placebo-controlled design. Each subject received each active drug and placebo. Neuropsychological measures (Wechsler Memory Scale I and II, Selective Reminding Test, Trail-Making Test, Parts A and B, Digit Symbol, and Memory Questionnaire) and measures of clinical balance were completed at baseline, after each drug phase, and at 1 month follow-up. Thirty-six subjects completed the study with results showing an improvement in memory scores in 44% of subjects (responders) while taking oral physostigmine. The most sensitive measure was the Selective Reminding Test, specifically Long-term Storage. The impact of drugs on standing balance as compared to placebo was improved standing time in the responders.: (1) with physostigmine when standing tandem with eyes closed (p<0.05), and (2) with scopolamine when standing on one foot with eyes closed (p< 0.05). Results support the potential benefit of cholinergic agonists on memory after TBI and the need for further research of possible clinical markers for the drug.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-587
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology


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