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BACKGROUND: Emotional processing measures are sensitive to acute administration of clinically useful antidepressant drugs. We wished to test the hypothesis that these models would also be able to detect agents likely to cause depression as an adverse effect. The anti-obesity drug and cannabinoid type 1 receptor antagonist, rimonabant, is associated with significant rates of depression and anxiety in clinical use. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thirty healthy adult volunteers were randomly assigned to receive a single dose of rimonabant (20 mg) or lactose placebo in a double-blind, between-groups design. Three hours after medication administration, subjects undertook an emotional processing test battery including facial emotion recognition, emotional word attentional dot probe, self-relevant word classification, emotional and declarative memory and the emotion-potentiated acoustic startle response. Subjective state was assessed via self-report measures. RESULTS: A single dose of rimonabant did not alter subjective mood. However, rimonabant selectively reduced incidental recall of positive self-relevant adjectives, an effect contrary to that seen following the administration of antidepressants. There were no effects of rimonabant on the other measures of emotional processing. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that a single dose of rimonabant decreases positive emotional memory in the absence of changes in subjective state. Further studies are required to examine whether rimonabant might produce a wider range of negative emotional biases with repeated treatment.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychopharmacology (Berl)

Publication Date





85 - 91


Acoustic Stimulation, Adolescent, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Double-Blind Method, Emotions, Female, Humans, Male, Memory, Memory Disorders, Neuropsychological Tests, Pain Measurement, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Personality Inventory, Piperidines, Pyrazoles, Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1, Recognition (Psychology), Reflex, Startle, Time Factors, Verbal Learning, Young Adult