What Behaviors Are Associated With Acetylcholine?
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Noteworthy is the cholinergic projection from the nucleus basalis of Meynert (in the basal forebrain) to the forebrain neocortex and associated limbic structures. Degeneration of this pathway is one of the pathologies associated with Alzheimer's disease. There is also a projection from the medial septal and diagonal band region to limbic structures (blue). Most subcortical areas are innervated by neurons from the ponto-mesencephalic region.
Acetylcholine also acts at various sites within the central nervous system where it can function as a neurotransmitter and as a neuromodulator. It plays a role in motivation, arousal, attention, learning, and memory, and is also involved in promoting REM sleep.
This article will discuss how the specific cellular effects of acetylcholine within cortical structures could underlie the role of acetylcholine in encoding of new memories.
However, increases in ACh signaling can lead to symptoms related to anxiety and depression. For example, while stress-induced ACh release can result in adaptive responses to environmental stimuli, chronic elevations in cholinergic signaling may produce maladaptive behaviors.
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