Alzheimer's disease and age-related memory decline (preclinical)

Alvin V. Terry, Patrick M. Callahan, Brandon Hall, Scott J. Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


An unfortunate result of the rapid rise in geriatric populations worldwide is the increasing prevalence of age-related cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). AD is a devastating neurodegenerative illness that is characterized by a profound impairment of cognitive function, marked physical disability, and an enormous economic burden on the afflicted individual, caregivers, and society in general. The rise in elderly populations is also resulting in an increase in individuals with related (potentially treatable) conditions such as "Mild Cognitive Impairment" (MCI) which is characterized by a less severe (but abnormal) level of cognitive impairment and a high-risk for developing dementia. Even in the absence of a diagnosable disorder of cognition (e.g.; AD and MCI), the perception of increased forgetfulness and declining mental function is a clear source of apprehension in the elderly. This is a valid concern given that even a modest impairment of cognitive function is likely to be associated with significant disability in a rapidly evolving, technology-based society. Unfortunately, the currently available therapies designed to improve cognition (i.e.; for AD and other forms of dementia) are limited by modest efficacy and adverse side effects, and their effects on cognitive function are not sustained over time. Accordingly, it is incumbent on the scientific community to develop safer and more effective therapies that improve and/or sustain cognitive function in the elderly allowing them to remain mentally active and productive for as long as possible. As diagnostic criteria for memory disorders evolve, the demand for pro-cognitive therapeutic agents is likely to surpass AD and dementia to include MCI and potentially even less severe forms of memory decline. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the contemporary therapeutic targets and preclinical pharmacologic approaches (with representative drug examples) designed to enhance memory function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-210
Number of pages21
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Cognition
  • Dementia
  • Drug development
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment
  • Neurotransmitter receptors
  • Pro-cognitive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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