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Behav Brain Res. 2008 Dec 16;195(1):86-97. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.02.037. Epub 2008 Mar 4.

Modulation of cholinergic functions by serotonin and possible implications in memory: general data and focus on 5-HT(1A) receptors of the medial septum.

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  • 1Laboratoire d'Imagerie et de Neurosciences Cognitives, UMR 7191, Universit√© Louis Pasteur/CNRS, IFR 27 des Neurosciences et GDR 2905 du CNRS, 12 rue Goethe, F-67000 Strasbourg, France.


Cholinergic systems were linked to cognitive processes like attention and memory. Other neurotransmitter systems having minor influence on cognitive functions - as shown by the weakness of the effects of their selective lesions - modulate cholinergic functions. The serotonergic system is such a system. Conjoined functional changes in cholinergic and serotonergic systems may have marked cognitive consequences [Cassel JC, Jeltsch H. Serotoninergic modulation of cholinergic function in the central nervous system: cognitive implications. Neuroscience 1995;69(1):1-41; Steckler T, Sahgal A. The role of serotoninergic-cholinergic interactions in the mediation of cognitive behaviour. Behav Brain Res 1995;67:165-99]. A crucial issue in that concern is the identification of the neuroanatomical and neuropharmacological substrates where functional effects of serotonergic/cholinergic interactions originate. Approaches relying on lesions and intracerebral cell grafting, on systemic drug-cocktail injections, or even on intracerebral drug infusions represent the main avenues on which our knowledge about the role of serotonergic/cholinergic interactions has progressed. The present review will visit some of these avenues and discuss their contribution to what is currently known on the potential or established implication(s) into memory functions of serotonergic/cholinergic interactions. It will then focus on a brain region and a neuropharmacological substrate that have been poorly studied as regards serotonergic modulation of memory functions, namely the medial septum and its 5-HT(1A) receptors. Based on recent findings of our laboratory, we suggest that these receptors, located on both cholinergic and GABAergic septal neurons, take part in a mechanism that controls encoding, to some extent consolidation, but not retrieval, of hippocampal-dependent memories. This control, however, does not occur by the way of an exclusive action of serotonin on cholinergic neurons.

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