α7-Nicotinic receptors and cognition.
Nicotinic α7 receptors have been shown in a variety of studies with animal models to play important roles in diverse components of cognitive function, including learning, memory and attention. Mice with α7 receptor knockouts show impairments in memory. Selective α7 agonists significantly improve learning, memory and attention. α7 receptors in limbic structures such as the hippocampus and amygdala have been demonstrated to play critical roles in memory. Blockade of α7 receptors in these areas cause memory impairments. In the brains of people with schizophrenia α7 receptors are impaired. This may be related to pronounced cognitive impairments seen with schizophrenia. There has been a major effort to develop α7 nicotinic agonists for helping to reverse cognitive impairment. These receptors are a promising target for development of therapeutic treatments for a variety of diseases of cognitive impairment including Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and schizophrenia.
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