Nicotinic agonist and antagonist effects on memory
Nicotine has been found by a variety of investigators to improve memory in rats, monkeys, and humans. Recent studies have helped to determine the behavioral and pharmacological nature of critical nicotine effects on memory function. Other nicotinic agonists, including ABT-418, GTS-21, or lobeline, can also significantly improve memory performance. Conversely, nicotinic antagonists, such as mecamylamine, can impair memory. Nicotine can reverse memory impairments caused by aging or by lesions to hippocampal connections. The observation that nicotine improves memory performance when it is administered by chronic infusion is potentially important for the development of treatments of cognitive impairment. Nicotinic agonists show promise for the development of novel treatments for cognitive disorders. Some characteristics of nicotine, nicotinic receptors, and the nature of the disorders to be treated, however, present challenges to the development of nicotinic-based treatments.
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