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The Effects of Nicotine on Attention, Information Processing, and Short-Term Memory in Patients with Dementia of the Alzheimer Type

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Barbara Sahakian
Affiliation:
Section of Old Age Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, London
Gemma Jones
Affiliation:
Section of Old Age Psychiatry and Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, London
Raymond Levy
Affiliation:
Section of Old Age Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, London
Jeffrey Gray
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, London
David Warburton
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Reading, Reading

Abstract

Nicotine in patients with dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) producted a significant and marked improvement in discriminative sensitivity and reaction times on a computerised test of attention and information processing. Nicotine also improved the ability of DAT patients to detect a flickering light in a critical flicker fusion test. These results suggest that nicotine may be acting on cortical mechanisms involved in visual perception and attention, and support the hypothesis that acetylcholine transmission modulates vigilance and discrimination. Nicotine may therefore be of some value in treating deficits in attention and information processing in DAT patients.

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Papers
Copyright
Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1989 

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