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The effect of Modafinil on behavioural and ERP measures of attention and associated sex differences

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posted on 2023-05-27, 09:09 authored by Shaw, HM
Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting drug that is becoming more commonly used for off-label for attentional enhancement in healthy individuals despite conflicting evidence to support this. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of modafinil on behavioural (reaction time & accuracy) and ERP (N1 amplitude) measures of the attentional alerting and orienting networks and also investigate any sex differences associated with these effects. The final sample consisted of 14 females and 22 males who were all healthy and met the screening criteria. Each participant completed two sessions differing by drug condition (200mg modafinil or placebo). The Attentional Network Task was used to assess the effects on both the alerting and orienting network and this task was completed at baseline and at 2.5 hours post-ingestion. As expected, reaction time decreased and N1 amplitude increased as cues became more informative. There was a small enhancement of the alerting network demonstrated by a significant decrease in reaction time from baseline to post-ingestion for central cues in the modafinil condition but not placebo. There was a small significant decrease in reaction time from baseline to post-ingestion for spatial cues but this is likely due to alerting enhancement rather than orienting as the effects were of similar size. Inconsistent to the hypotheses, males had a faster reaction time to all cue types when compared to females. Males also showed greater N1 amplitude after modafinil ingestion than placebo, indicating some sex differences in the effect of modafinil may be present. These results suggest that modafinil may have an enhancing effect on the alerting network but not the orienting network. The effects of modafinil on the orienting network has not been well studied so future research is required to confirm this finding. There also appears to be differential effects of modafinil on males and females, which also requires future investigation as this is the first study to look at these effects.

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