No implicit memory for stories played during isoflurane/alfentanil/nitrous oxide anesthesia: A reading speed measurement

Sinikka Münte*, Ekkehard Lüllwitz, Martin Leuwer, Bernd Mitzlaff, Thomas F. Münte, Sami Hussein, Siegfried A. Piepenbrock

*Corresponding author for this work
8 Citations (Scopus)


Implicit memory of intraoperatively presented stories was recently detected by using the reading speed paradigm during propofol-alfentanil- nitrous oxide anesthesia. Our main goal was to evaluate the reading speed test procedure under another anesthetic regimen, i.e., isoflurane combined with nitrous oxide and alfentanil-infusion. In both experiments, patients were premedicated with oral midazolam. In a previous experiment, patients postoperatively read 'old' stories that had been presented during anesthesia quicker compared with 'new,' unpresented stories. The same study design and test material as in the previous experiment were used. One of two audio tapes with two short stories was played randomly to patients during lumbar disk surgery and to awake controls. Approximately 7 h later, a structured interview and the reading speed test were used to determine whether the participants had any explicit or implicit memories of the presented stories. The results of 30 patients and 30 controls were calculated. Whereas the control participants showed an intact explicit and implicit memory of the previously presented material, no such effect was found in the anesthetized patients. The present experiment shows that changing the main anesthetic in otherwise equal study conditions, i.e., propofol to isoflurane (end- expiratory 0.7%), implicit memory is abolished in anesthetized patients. Implications: We showed that implicit memory during general anesthesia can be abolished by changing the hypnotic anesthetic. Increased postoperative reading speed for stories presented during propofol-alfentanil-nitrous oxide anesthesia was shown in a previous experiment, but not in our study using isoflurane for balanced anesthesia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)733-738
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2000

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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