Differential effects of clonidine, haloperidol, diazepam and tryptophan depletion on focused attention and attentional search.
Coull JT., Sahakian BJ., Middleton HC., Young AH., Park SB., McShane RH., Cowen PJ., Robbins TW.
As the catecholamines have long been implicated in attentional processes, the present investigation compared the effects of the mixed alpha 1/alpha 2 adrenoceptor agonist clonidine (CLO), the benzodiazepine diazepam (DZP), the D1/D2 antagonist haloperidol (HAL) and a low-tryptophan drink (Lo-TRP) on performance of tests of selective attention with distractors in four groups of young, healthy volunteers. Using a placebo-controlled, cross-over design, selective and dissociable effects on performance were found with each pharmacological manipulation. Specifically, CLO acted to broaden the focus of attention, HAL generally slowed reaction times during attentional search, and DZP and Lo-TRP produced differential effects on stimulus-response compatibility during attentional search. Furthermore, these results underline the usefulness of employing a single test with several neurochemical manipulations, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of the neurochemical basis of attention.