Choline and memory enhancement?

mtaffe at mtaffe at
Wed Oct 12 14:58:01 EST 1994

In <37elth$cju at>, herwin at vanish (Harry Erwin) writes:
>Harry Erwin (herwin at vanish) wrote:
>: Shaun D. Carstairs (shaunc at wrote:
>: : Has anyone heard of the potential memory-enhancing abilities of choline
>: : supplements (i.e., have any studies been published regarding this subject)?
>: Mortimer Mishkin (NIH) talked at Radford about the evidence his lab has
>: developed for two memory systems, the cortical-limbic system, which is
>: modulated by acetylcholine, involves the hippocampus, has feedback to
>: the sensory areas, and functions cognitively, and the cortical-striatal
>: system, which is modulated instead by dopamine, involves the hippocampus,
>: appears to be one-way, and functions behaviorally (never forgetting).
>Whoops!!!! The cortical-striatal system involves the -->amygdala<--....

There are indeed a few studies of choline supplements but I'm sorry I don't
have the references at the moment.  I *do* however want to address a more
theoretical aspect of your question.  The link between acetylcholine and
certain types of memory is established in a negative/dysfunction model.  By 
this, I mean that when we give animals something that disrupts *normal* ACh
function (such as scopolamine) it typically results in a memory dysfunction.
This is the logic that suggests that *intact* ACh functioning is required for
(some) normal memory functions.  It is *not* valid to assume, however, that
this means that accelerating ACh function or availability (AChE inhibitors, 
say) would increase the span, speed or reliability of memory!  Remember that
many brain systems exist in a strict homeostatic balance and excess (whatever)
can be just as bad as insufficient (whatever).


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