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The cholinergic system has long been linked to cognitive processes. Two main classes of acetylcholine (ACh) receptors exist in the human brain, namely muscarinic and nicotinic receptors, of which several subtypes occur.
This review seeks to provide an overview of previous findings on the influence of cholinergic receptor manipulations on cognition in animals and humans, with particular emphasis on the role of selected cholinergic receptor subtypes. Furthermore, the involvement of these receptor subtypes in the regulation of emotion and brain electrical activity as measured by electroencephalography (EEG) shall be addressed since these domains are considered to be important modulators of cognitive functioning.
In regard to cognition, the muscarinic receptor subtypes have been implicated mainly in memory functions, but have also been linked to attentional processes. The nicotinic α7 receptor subtype is involved in working memory, whereas the α4β2* subtype has been linked to tests of attention. Both muscarinic and nicotinic cholinergic mechanisms play a role in modulating brain electrical activity. Nicotinic receptors have been strongly associated with the modulation of depression and anxiety.
Cholinergic receptor manipulations have an effect on cognition, emotion, and brain electrical activity as measured by EEG. Changes in cognition can result from direct cholinergic receptor manipulation or from cholinergically induced changes in vigilance or affective state.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Leipzig, Semmelweisstr. 10, 04103, Leipzig, Germany, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Drugs that bind to but do not activate CHOLINERGIC RECEPTORS, thereby blocking the actions of ACETYLCHOLINE or cholinergic agonists.
Any drug used for its actions on cholinergic systems. Included here are agonists and antagonists, drugs that affect the life cycle of ACETYLCHOLINE, and drugs that affect the survival of cholinergic neurons. The term cholinergic agents is sometimes still used in the narrower sense of MUSCARINIC AGONISTS, although most modern texts discourage that usage.
A subclass of muscarinic receptor that mediates cholinergic-induced contraction in a variety of SMOOTH MUSCLES.
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