Male adults were tested in a dichotic listening task, providing electrophysiological measures of selective attention. Subjects were tested twice, 60 min after oral administration of either 40 mg of ACTH 4-9 analog, or placebo. Averaged auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) to tone pips when attended and when unattended, EEG spectra, heart rate and blood pressure, and behavioral performance were measured during task performance. ACTH 4-9 analog treatment impaired selective attention as indicated a) by a diminished difference between evoked potential waveforms to attended and to unattended tone pips, b) by an impaired behavioral signal detection performance. Furthermore, frontal EEG theta activity slowed down after ACTH 4-9 analog. With time on task, however, there was no decay, but an improvement of selective attention after peptide administration. Differences in attention could not be due to concurrent changes in general cortical and autonomic arousal as indicated by EEG alpha activity, blood pressure and heart rate. Since separate analyses of the AEPs revealed an increased processing of the unattended tone pips in the ACTH 4-9 analog sessions the impaired selective attention under ACTH 4-9 analog may be described as an inability to suppress processing of irrelevant or distracting stimuli.
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