Cholinergic Drug Studies in Dementia and Depression
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For over 30 years researchers have been investigating the involvement of central cholinergic systems in the processes of memory, learning, attention and other cognitive operations. These studies received a boost when the hypothesis was generated that cholinergic lesions in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease might be related to the cognitive pathology of that disorder (Coyle et al., 1983). This hypothesis has led to a number of therapeutic studies in Alzheimer’s Disease aimed at improving the cognitive symptomatology by cholinergic stimulation or replacement (for example, Brinkman et al., 1982; Davis and Mohs, 1982; Ferris et al., 1979; Mohs et al., 1985). The results of the studies have been for the most part disappointing; the reasons for this remain incompletely understood. This chapter will review a series of studies done in our laboratory at the National Institute of Mental Health attempting to examine in more detail the clinical relevance of cholinergic pathology in Alzheimer’s disease. The general paradigm uses acute doses of cholinergic agonists and antagonists as pharmacological probes of the functional status of the central cholinergic system in demented patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, and as comparison groups, elderly normals and elderly patients suffering from depression.
KeywordsFree Recall Nicotinic Receptor Brief Psychiatric Rate Scale Nicotine Administration Intrusion Error
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