Lack of deleterious effects of buspirone on cognition in healthy male volunteers.


Buspirone is a serotonin 5-HT(1A) receptor agonist licensed for the treatment of anxiety. Other anxiolytic drugs such as benzodiazepines show significant sedative and other unwanted effects on cognition. Studies to date have yet to investigate cognitive effects of buspirone using well-validated computerized tests. The aim of this study was to assess acute subjective and cognitive effects of buspirone in healthy volunteers. Sixty healthy male volunteers received 20 mg buspirone, 30 mg buspirone, or placebo per os in a double-blind parallel groups design (N=20 per group). Subjective ratings (visual analogue scales) were completed at baseline, and at 1.5 and 3.5 hours post-capsule. Cognitive assessment was undertaken between 1.5 and 3.5 hours post-capsule, including tests of memory, executive planning, impulse control, decision making and cognitive flexibility. The 30 mg buspirone group showed significantly higher subjective ratings of contentedness 3.5 hours after capsule relative to placebo. Treatment and placebo groups did not differ significantly on cognitive measures. In contrast to benzodiazepines, the anxiolytic buspirone appears to lack detectable deleterious effects on cognition when administered acutely at clinically meaningful doses. Future research directions are discussed in relation to acute and chronic studies in neuropsychiatric populations.