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Nicotinic Receptor Activity Alters Synaptic Plasticity
Studies using specific agonists, antagonists, and lesions have shown that nicotinic cholinergic systems participate in attention, learning, and memory[1,2]. The nicotinic manipulations usually have the greatest influence on difficult tasks or on cognitively impaired subjects. For example, Alzheimer's disease is characterized by a loss of cholinergic projections and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the cortex and hippocampus. Nicotine skin patches can improve learning rates and attention in Alzheimer's patients.