Diazepam Impairs Behavioral Inhibition but Not Delay Discounting or Risk Taking in Healthy Adults

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There are reports that diazepam can increase, decrease, or have no effect on measures of impulsive behavior, which may be related, in part, to differences among the tasks used to measure impulsivity. This study examined the effects of a relatively high dose of diazepam (20 mg) on 5 measures of impulsive behavior in healthy adult men and women. Volunteers (N = 18) participated in a 2-session double-blind randomized design in which they received 20 mg diazepam or placebo. One hour after ingesting the capsule, participants completed mood questionnaires and several impulsivity tasks to measure subtypes of impulsive behavior, including behavioral inhibition, delay and probability discounting, and risk taking. Diazepam impaired behavioral inhibition but had no effect on measures of discounting or risk taking. These results are discussed in the context of other recent findings suggesting that different behavioral indices of impulsivity are dissociable and governed by separate underlying mechanisms.

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