Effects of concomitant cholinergic and adrenergic stimulation on learning and memory performance by primates

Jerry J. Buccafusco, William J. Jackson, Alvin V. Terry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Physostigmine and other centrally-acting acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are currently being examined for their potential in the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. The ability to employ this class of agents is limited by the potential for debilitating and dangerous side effects. Clonidine and related drugs have recently been demonstrated to enhance memory performance in monkeys. Clonidine also inhibits the function of cholinergic neurons in specific brain regions and reduces certain side effects of physostigmine. Seven adult macaque monkeys performing a delayed matching-to-sample (DMTS) task received regimens of increasing doses of clonidine and physostigmine on separate occasions to determine the 'best dose' of each agent in terms of enhanced memory performance. The best doses were combined as a single administration and performance compared to that using the two drugs alone. The combination regimen of clonidine and physostigmine was more effective than either drug alone in enhancing memory performance. Part of the benefit may have been due to the ability to employ significantly higher doses of physostigmine on the combination regimen. A single injection of the combination resulted in enhanced performance both on the day of administration as well as on the following day. These results are consistent with the ability of clonidine to limit the expression or intensity of certain physostigmine-induced autonomic side effects, while allowing the cognitive beneficial effects of the cholinesterase inhibitor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)PL7-PL12
JournalLife sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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