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Pharmacopsychiatry. 2009 Jan;42(1):9-13. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1083820. Epub 2009 Jan 19.

The effects of donepezil on postlearning sleep EEG of healthy older adults.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité - University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany.



Aging is associated with cholinergic hypofunction and memory decline. Cholinergic activity also plays a crucial role in sleep-dependent memory consolidation. The acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChE-I) donepezil has been found to increase sleep-related procedural memory consolidation in healthy older adults in a previous study.


Data of the former study were reanalyzed with regard to the effects of donepezil on the sleep EEG of healthy older adults. This analysis was conducted with a special focus on spectral parameters of sleep, which have previously been linked to plasticity-related processes during sleep, i.e., sigma and delta activity. Forty-two participants (aged: 60-77 years) received 5 mg of the AChE-I donepezil orally 30 min before bedtime in a placebo-controlled, double-blind design. Power values for EEG delta, theta, alpha1, alpha 2, sigma, beta and gamma frequency bands were calculated for stage 2 NREM sleep, SWS and REM sleep.


In line with our hypotheses, the AChE-I donepezil led to an increase in sigma activity during stage 2 NREM sleep and delta activity during slow wave sleep.


These results suggest that an AChE-I facilitates processes of sleep-dependent memory consolidation in older adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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