The Cholinergic Basis of Memory — A Reappraisal
Research conducted during the last two decades has increasingly supported the impression that a deficit in the cholinergic neurotransmitter system of the brain plays an important role in the memory and cognitive impairments accompanying aging. The basis of the cholinergic mechanisms affecting memory have been extensively reviewed in the papers by Drachman and Leavitt (1974); Drachman (1977); Sitaram, Weingartner and Gillin (1979a, b, 1982 etc.); Davis and Yamamura (1978); Corkin (1981), and Bartus et al. (1982). Interference in the cholinergic transmission by scopolamine, produces cognitive deficits similar to that seen in normal aging (Drachman and Leavitt, 1974). This “scopolamine dementia” is characterized by major interference with memory acquisition (encoding) with relative sparing in the retrieval of already acquired information. The magnitude of evidence pointing towards a cholinergic deficiency in Senile Dementia Alzheimer’s Type (SDAT) makes a pertinent analogy to Parkinson’s disease. The deficiency of striatal dopamine in Parkinsonism is secondary to loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra.
KeywordsDopamine Dementia Nicotine Adenosine Choline
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