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Article
October 1980

Memory and Cognitive Function in the ElderlyA Preliminary Trial of Physostigmine

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, Mass.

Arch Neurol. 1980;37(10):674-675. doi:10.1001/archneur.1980.00500590098022
Abstract

Memory and cognitive (M-C) functions are known to decline with advancing age. Pharmacologic studies during the last decade have suggested that this may be due to a decrease in cholinergic function in the brains of the elderly. In particular, two lines of evidence support this concept. First, scopolamine, a cholinergic receptorblocking agent, produces a pattern of M-C impairment in young subjects that closely mimics the pattern seen in the elderly.1,2 Second, biochemical studies with the cholinergic receptor ligand, 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate (3H-QNB), have demonstrated a decline in cholinergic receptors in the cerebral cortices of the aged.3 Although centrally-active cholinergic agonists (physostigmine, choline, arecoline) have been given to young, normal subjects with some variable improvement in M-C functions4,5 and to demented patients with less consistent results,6-8 the effects of these drugs on M-C functions in normal aged subjects have not yet been studied. The purpose of this communication

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