Effects of ketamine on thought disorder, working memory, and semantic memory in healthy volunteers

Caleb M. Adler, Terry E. Goldberg, Anil K. Malhotra, David Pickar, Alan Breier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist, ketamine, produces a clinical syndrome of thought disorder, perceptual distortion, and cognitive impairment. Methods: We have administered ketamine to healthy volunteers to characterize the formal thought disorder and specific memory dysfunction associated with ketamine. Ten healthy volunteers underwent a double-blind, placebo-controlled, ketamine infusion (0.12 mg/kg bolus and 0.65 mg/kg/hour). Thought disorder was evaluated with the Scale for the Assessment of Thought, Language and Communication. Cognitive testing involved working and semantic memory tasks. Results: Ketamine produced a formal thought disorder, as well as impairments in working and semantic memory. The degree of ketamine-induced thought disorder significantly correlated with ketamine-induced decreases in working memory and did not correlate with ketamine-induced impairments in semantic memory. Conclusions: This study characterizes the formal thought disorder associated with ketamine and may suggest that ketamine-induced deficits in working memory are associated with ketamine-induced thought disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-816
Number of pages6
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Ketamine
  • N-methyl-D-aspartate
  • Thought disorder
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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