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Brain Res Bull. 2000 Feb;51(3):213-8.

Cholinergic enhancement improves performance on working memory by modulating the functional activity in distinct brain regions: a positron emission tomography regional cerebral blood flow study in healthy humans.

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Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1366, USA.


Previously, we have shown that physostigmine, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, improved performance on a working memory for faces task, as reflected by reduced reaction time (RT), and reduced task-specific regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in right prefrontal cortex and, further, that these reductions in RT and right frontal rCBF were significantly correlated. Here we investigated the relation between the effects of physostigmine on task performance and task-specific functional brain response throughout the cortex by examining correlations between physostigmine-related changes in rCBF in all brain areas and changes in RT. In subjects who received an infusion of physostigmine, reduced RT correlated (p<0.001) positively with reduced rCBF in right frontal cortex, left temporal cortex, anterior cingulate, and left hippocampus; and correlated with increased rCBF in medial occipital visual cortex. In subjects who received a placebo infusion of saline, no significant correlations between changes in RT and cortical rCBF were observed. The results show that cholinergically induced improvements in working memory performance are related to alterations in neural activity in multiple cortical regions, including increased neural activity in regions associated with early perceptual processing and decreased neural activity in regions associated with attention, memory encoding, and memory maintenance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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