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A single high dose of escitalopram disrupts sensory gating and habituation, but not sensorimotor gating in healthy volunteers

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Early mechanisms to limit the input of sensory information to higher brain areas are important for a healthy individual. In previous studies, we found that a low dose of 10mg escitalopram (SSRI) disrupts habituation, without affecting sensory and sensorimotor gating in healthy volunteers. In the current study a higher dose of 15mg was used. The hypothesis was that this higher dose of escitalopram would not only disrupt habituation, but also sensory and sensorimotor gating. Twenty healthy male volunteers received either placebo or 15mg escitalopram, after which they were tested in a P50 suppression, and a habituation and prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the startle reflex paradigm. Escitalopram significantly decreased P50 suppression and habituation, but had no effect on PPI. The results indicate that habituation and sensory gating are disrupted by increased serotonergic activity, while sensorimotor gating seems relatively insensitive to such a rise. Since the patients who are frequently treated with SSRIs (patients with schizophrenia and affective disorders) might already suffer from disrupted sensory gating and habituation, the current results call for caution in the determination of a proper dose.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatry Research
Volume186
Pages (from-to)431-436
Number of pages6
ISSN0165-1781
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ID: 30978801