Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Pharmacology and Toxicology


Pharmacology and Toxicology

First Advisor

David R. DeFanti


The effects of a 100 mg. dose of secobarbital was measured on a cognitive and psychomotor test of human behavior presumably related to driving an automobile. Eight healthy subjects, six female and two male, ranging in age from 25 to 40 years were tested by means of a simple math test and a pursuit rotor. Each subject underwent three separate drug experiments and during each was tested at one hour and at three hours after secobarbital administration. Blood samples were taken immediately before the one and three hour testing sessions in each drug trial. Quantitation of the secobarbital was accomplished by gas chromatography using a 2.5% SE-30 column. Secobarbital was found to significantly impair both the cognitive and psychomotor functions of behavior as measured by the math and pursuit rotor tests respectively at the one hour time interval after secobarbital ingestion. Only in the second drug trial did a psychomotor impairment persist at the three hour time period. Blood levels of secobarbital showed a correlation with percent change in psychomotor performance at one hour with the pursuit rotor test results and with the combined one and three hour pursuit rotor test results. Rank-order correlation was also shown. Math test results did not show correlation with blood levels of secobarbital. The time since secobarbital ingestion appeared to be an important consideration when trying to determine drug induced impairment of function. Impairment in both the cognitive and psychomotor functions was noted at the one hour time period but not at the three hour time period even though secobarbital blood levels remained in the therapeutic range.