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March 1977

The Effect of Lithium Carbonate on the Cognitive Functions of Normal Subjects

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, La Jolla.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1977;34(3):355-357. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1977.01770150113013

• The responses of 24 normal male subjects were compared after two weeks of placebo administration and two weeks of lithium carbonate administration (mean serum lithium level, 0.9 mEq/liter) on a series of tasks of intellectual function, aesthetic judgment, and semantic creativity. This was a placebocontrolled, split-half crossover, double-blind design. There were no significant changes on semantic creativity or aesthetic perception measures following lithium carbonate maintenance. There were lithium carbonate-related performance deficits on three of five performance tasks concerned with cognitive and/or motor functions. The deficit is probably due to a lithium carbonate-induced slowing of performance, consistent with our previous report of subjective effects in normal subjects. The implications of slowing on possible behavioral mediating mechanisms by which lithium carbonate exerts its clinical effects are discussed.

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