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Annales de Gérontologie

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Sleep disorders and cholinergic activity: potential implications for memory consolidation Volume 2, issue 2, avril 2009

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Professeur de Neurosciences, Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille

Cholinesterase inhibitors remain the treatment of choice in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. They enhance cholinergic transmission in structures involved in cognitive processes. These drugs showed a clinical efficacy in term of behavioral and cognitive improvement. It is well admitted that cholinesterase inhibitors effects are due to their main mechanism of action that is the increase of synaptic acetylcholine (ACh) biodisponibility and the activation of cholinergic receptors. In patients with impaired central cholinergic transmission, it was shown that cholinergic stimulation has facilitating effects on cognition. These data are in line with works showing the suppressor effect of cholinergic blockers as scopolamine on cognitive functions and attentional processes, or on the contrary, the stimulatory action of cholinergic agonists as nicotine.