The specific roles of different neurotransmitters in memory are just beginning to be appreciated. The cholinergic system appears to be critical for the acquisition of long-term declarative memories. In healthy subjects, cholinergic antagonists such as scopolamine impair declarative memory performance, whereas agonists such as physostigmine facilitate such performance. y Some nondeclarative forms of memory, however, are not affected by scopolamine. Cholinergic function decreases somewhat with age and greatly in patients with Alzheimer's disease, y and these changes may contribute importantly to corresponding reductions in declarative memory ability.
The catecholamines appear to have an important role in working memory. Dopaminergic function is decreased in patients with Parkinson's disease, who have reduced working memory capacity. There is some evidence that dopamine agonists can improve working memory capacity in patients with Parkinson's disease y and in healthy subjects.y
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