Cognition, Behavior, and Memory

Author: Candela Sofía León | Email: cleon@itba.edu.ar

Candela S. León , Agustina L. Lo Celso , Natividad Olivar , Jaqueline Toledo , Facundo A. Urreta Benitez , Matías Bonilla , Luis I. Brusco , Cecilia Forcato

1° Laboratorio de Sueño y Memoria, Departamento de Ciencias de la Vida, Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA), Buenos Aires, Argentina
2° CENECON, Centro de Neuropsiquiatría y Neurología de la Conducta (CENECON), Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Benzodiazepines are the most commonly used drugs to treat anxiety in eyewitnesses of crimes. They increase GABA inhibitory effect, which negatively affects encoding and consolidation of aversive memories. Eyewitness memory is essential in judicial decisions. However, memory is malleable leading to the formation of false memories. Here, we studied whether a low dose of Clonazepam (CLZ) impairs encoding as well as consolidation of faces and verbal narrative. To assess this, we performed two experiments using a double-blind design. On day 1, subjects watched a crime video and received CLZ 0.25 mg or placebo before (Exp. 1) or after the video (Exp. 2) to assess the effect on encoding and consolidation, respectively. One week later (day 8), the memory was assessed using a culprit present/absent lineup and asking for a verbal narrative. Regarding encoding, we found that the CLZ group recalled significantly less number of details on day 8, while central details did not differ between groups. Regarding consolidation, in the absent lineup, we observed a trend indicating that CLZ negatively impacted on correct rejections, leading to more innocents being chosen. These results suggest that a low dose of Benzodiazepine could modulate memory encoding and consolidation impacting both testimony as well as lineup choice. These results are relevant in the judicial field to assess the reliability of the eyewitness elections.