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Cholinergic function and dysfunction in the visual system.

Acetylcholine (ACh) function is thought not only to play a significant role in memory, learning and other cognitive processes, but studies at a cellular level and in vivo indicate an important role for ACh in vision as well, especially for visual information processing. A suitable experimental model of geriatric memory impairment and Alzheimer dementia that pharmacologically blocks the brain muscarinic transmission has been proposed. This model has been extensively used also as an attempt to test cholinergic drugs in the absence of detailed knowledge of sites and mechanisms of ACh action and as test condition in the investigation of the role of ACh in visual information processing. Alzheimer's dementia results from complex neuron alterations, rather than simply reflecting ACh impoverishment, also involving the visual system, with substantial loss of retinal ganglion cells and alterations in visual information processing. Viewing all these data as a whole, nonspecific ACh actions on cognition, such as arousal or attention, contribute in modulating the function-specific action of ACh in information processing, both at cognitive and visual level.[1]

References

  1. Cholinergic function and dysfunction in the visual system. Beelke, M., Sannita, W.G. Methods and findings in experimental and clinical pharmacology. (2002) [Pubmed]
 
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