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Memantine Effects On Sensorimotor Gating and Mismatch Negativity in Patients with Chronic Psychosis


Patients with chronic psychotic disorders (CPD) exhibit deficient sensorimotor gating (measured by prepulse inhibition (PPI) of startle) and mismatch negativity (MMN). In healthy subjects (HS), N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonists like memantine and ketamine increase PPI, and under some conditions, memantine enhances MMN; these findings present a challenge to understanding the basis for deficient PPI and MMN in psychotic disorders, as reduced NMDA activity is implicated in the pathogenesis of these disorders. Here we assessed for the first time the effects of memantine on PPI and MMN in CPD subjects. Baseline PPI was measured in HS and patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, depressed type. Subjects (total n=84) were then tested twice, in a double-blind crossover design, comparing either: (1) placebo vs 10 mg of memantine or (2) placebo vs 20 mg memantine. Tests included measures of acoustic startle magnitude and habituation, PPI, MMN, autonomic indices, and subjective self-rating scales. Memantine (20 mg) significantly enhanced PPI in CPD subjects, and enhanced MMN across subject groups. These effects on PPI were age dependent and most evident in older CPD patients, whereas those on MMN were most evident in younger subjects. The lower dose (10 mg) either had no detectable effect or tended to degrade these measures. The NMDA antagonist, memantine, has dose-dependent effects on preconscious, automatic measures of sensorimotor gating and auditory sensory processing that are associated with enhanced cognition and function in CPD patients. Ongoing studies will determine whether these memantine-induced changes predict acute pro-cognitive or otherwise clinically beneficial effects in CPD patients.

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