A combined neurophysiological and behavioural study into the stimulating effects of fexofenadine on performance

Experimental Psychopharmacology Unit, Brain and Behaviour Institute, Faculty of Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
Journal of Psychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 3.59). 08/2006; 20(4):496-505. DOI: 10.1177/0269881105058362
Source: PubMed


Antihistamines are known for their sedative effects. However, some studies suggested mild stimulant effects in the case of fexofenadine. The goals of this study are to examine whether fexofenadine possesses stimulating properties and to determine whether such stimulating effects are related to workload. Sixteen healthy volunteers received a single dose of 180 and 360 mg fexofenadine and placebo on separate test days. Drug effects were assessed using a divided attention task (DAT), continuous performance task (CPT) and motor choice reaction time test (MCRT). Sensitivity of the tasks was increased by manipulating the workload during task performance. Event Related brain Potentials (ERPs) were measured in the DAT and CPT to study the underlying neurophysiological processes. An interaction effect of Treatment and Workload was found on tracking performance in the DAT and on movement time in the MCRT. Performance on the DAT was less affected by increments in workload after fexofenadine as compared to placebo. P1 and P3 latency were affected by Treatment x Workload and Treatment respectively and indicated faster attentional and information processing latencies following fexofenadine treatment. Treatment did not influence performance in the CPT task or in the ERPs measured during this task. The MCRT demonstrated faster movement times following fexofenadine treatment. These results suggest that although the neurophysiological data indicate central nervous system (CNS) activation after fexofenadine treatment, the magnitude of the centrally activating effects is too small to produce relevant performance improvement at the behavioural level.

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