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The effects of dimenhydrinate, cinnarizine and transdermal scopolamine on performance.

Author(s): Gordon CR, Gonen A, Nachum Z, Doweck I, Spitzer O, Shupak A.

Affiliation(s): Motion Sickness and Human Performance Laboratory, Israel Naval Medical Institute, IDF Medical Corps, Haifa. cgordon@post.tau.ac.il

Publication date & source: 2001, J Psychopharmacol. , 15(3):167-72

We assessed the influence of dimenhydrinate, cinnarizine and transdermal scopolamine on the ability to perform simulated naval crew tasks. The effect of single doses of dimenhydrinate, 100 mg, cinnarizine, 50 mg, and one transdermal scopolamine patch on psychomotor performance was evaluated using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, crossover design in three separate studies. A total of 60 young naval crew (20 for dimenhydrinate, 15 for cinnarizine and 25 for transdermal scopolamine) underwent a battery of computerized and paper and pencil performance tests, and filled out a questionnaire on side-effects and well-being self-assessment. Dimenhydrinate significantly impaired decision reaction time and auditory digit span. Most of the subjects who took dimenhydrinate also reported a subjective decrease in well-being and general performance abilities. Cinnarizine and transdermal scopolamine did not affect performance abilities. Cinnarizine was free of significant side-effects. Dry mouth was the only significant side-effect of transdermal scopolamine. These findings could be explained by the well-known sedative properties of dimenhydrinate and not by a specific effect on any particular cognitive or motor function. Our results suggest that dimenhydrinate, 100 mg, adversely affects psychomotor function, whereas single doses of cinnarizine, 50 mg, and transdermal scopolamine appear to be free of side-effects on performance and seem to be a preferable anti-seasickness drug for use by a naval crew.

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