, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 99–104 | Cite as

The effects of deanol on cognitive performance and electrophysiology in elderly humans

  • Gail R. Marsh
  • Markku Linnoila
Original Investigations


Deanol (900 mg/day for 21 days) had no effect on learning a list of words when tested at weekly intervals. Tests of simple and complex reaction time and a test of continuous serial decoding of digits showed no enhancement with the drug. Several components of evoked potentials recorded from several scalp sites did show enhanced amplitude under drug treatment. These changes were not accompanied by changes in the EEG spectrum as are seen with some other psychoactive drugs. Deanol seems to be an ineffective treatment for the normal slowing of cognitive function seen in the normal elderly person or those elderly with only minimal cognitive decline and free of symptoms of dementia. Contrary to earlier reports, elderly persons were found to be able to benefit from warning signals in a complex reaction time task.

Key words

deanol Electrophysiology Reaction time Human performance Age 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anders, T. R., Fozard, J. L.: Effects of age upon retrieval from primary and secondary memory. Dev. Psychol. 9, 411–415 (1973)Google Scholar
  2. Ansell, G. B., Spanner, S.: The effects of 2-dimethylaminoethanol on brain phospholipid metabolism. J. Neurochem. 9, 253–263 (1962)Google Scholar
  3. Bohard, F., Guennoc, A.: Action du cyprodemanol dans les troubles de la memoire. Quest. Med. 21, 1709–1713 (1968)Google Scholar
  4. Botwinick, J., Brinley, J. F., Birren, J. E.: Set in relation to age. J. Gerontol. 12, 300–305 (1957)Google Scholar
  5. Brown, B. B., Gangloff, H.: Effects of deanol and eserine on evoked electrical brain activity in rabbits. Fed. Proc. 18, 39 (1959)Google Scholar
  6. Craik, F. I. M.: Age differences in human memory. In: The handbook of the psychology of aging, J. E. Birren, K. W. Schaie, eds., pp. 384–420. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold 1977Google Scholar
  7. Crenshaw, D. A.: Retrieval processes in memory and aging. Doctoral dissertation, Washington University, 1969Google Scholar
  8. Davis, J. M.: Psychopharmacology of the aged. J. Geriatr. Psychiatry 7, 145–159 (1974)Google Scholar
  9. Dormard, Y., Levron, J. C., Benakis, A.: Pharmacokinetic study of maleate acid of 2-(N1N-dimethylaminoethanol-14C1)-cyclohexylpropionate (Cyprodenate) and of N1N-dimethylaminoethanol-14C1 in animals. Arzneim. Forsch. 25, 194–201 (1975a)Google Scholar
  10. Dormard, Y., Levron, J. C., LeFur, J. M.: Pharmacokinetic study of maleate acid of 2-(N1N-dimethylaminoethanol-14C1)-cyclohexylpropionate and of N1N-dimethylaminoethanol-14C1 in animals. Arzneim. Forsch. 25, 201–207 (1975b)Google Scholar
  11. Drachman, D. A., Leavitt, J.: Human memory and the cholinergic system. Arch. Neurol. 30, 113–121 (1974)Google Scholar
  12. Erber, J. T.: The differences in recognition memory. J. Gerontol. 29, 177–181 (1974)Google Scholar
  13. Ferris, S. H., Sathananthan, G., Gershon, S.: Senile dementia: Effects of treatment with deanol. Paper presented to the American Gerontological Society, New York, 1976Google Scholar
  14. Fonnum, G.: Review of recent progress in the synthesis, storage and release of acetylcholine. In: Cholinergic mechanisms, P. G. Waser, ed., pp. 145–159. New York: Raven 1975Google Scholar
  15. Goldstein, L., Murphree, H. P., Pfeiffer, C. C.: Quantitative electroencephalography in man as a measure of CNS stimulation. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 107, 1045–1056 (1963)Google Scholar
  16. Green, I.: Experiences in the management of geriatric patients with chronic brain syndromes. Am. J. Psychiatr. 122, 586–589 (1965)Google Scholar
  17. Growden, J. H., Hirsch, M. J., Wirtman, R. J., Wiener, W.: Oral choline administration to patients with tardive dyskinesia. N. Engl. J. Med. 297, 524–527 (1977)Google Scholar
  18. Hillyard, S. A., Hink, R. F., Schwent, V. L., Picton, T. W.: Electrical signs of attention in the human brain. Science 182, 177–180 (1973)Google Scholar
  19. Hillyard, S. A., Squires, K. C., Bauer, J. W., Lindsay, P. H.: Vertex potential correlates of auditory signal detection. Science 172, 1357–1360 (1971)Google Scholar
  20. Jasper, H. H.: The ten-twenty electrode system of the international federation. Electroencephalogr. Clin. Neurophysiol. 10, 371–375 (1958)Google Scholar
  21. Lawrence, R. M., Leichman, N. S.: Comparison of the effects of heparin sodium, xanthinol niacinate and 2-dimethylaminoethanol in institutionalized geriatric groups. J. Am. Geriatr. Soc. 13, 325–342 (1965)Google Scholar
  22. McNicol, D.: A primer of signal detection theory. London: George Allen and Unwin 1972Google Scholar
  23. Mirsky, A. F., Cardon, P. V.: A comparison of the behavioral and physiological changes accompanying sleep deprivation and chlorpromazine administration in man. Electroencephalogr. Clin. Neurophysiol. 14, 1–10 (1962)Google Scholar
  24. Murphree, H. B., Jr., Pfeiffer, C. C., Backerman, I. A.: The stimulant effect of 2-dimethylaminoethanol in human volunteer subjects. Clin. Pharmacol. Ther. 1, 303–310 (1960)Google Scholar
  25. Neubauer, H., Gershon, S., Sundland, D. M.: Differential responses to an anticholinergic psychotomimetic (Ditran) in a mixed psychiatric population. Psychiatria Neurol. 151, 61–80 (1966a)Google Scholar
  26. Neubauer, H., Gershon, S., Sundland, D. M.: Ditran and its antagonists in a mixed psychiatric population. J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 142, 265–277 (1966b)Google Scholar
  27. Pepen, G., Freedman, D. X., Giarman, N. J.: Biochemical and pharmacological studies of dimethylaminoethanol. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 129, 291–295 (1960)Google Scholar
  28. Perry, E. K., Gibson, P. H., Blessed, G., Perry, R. J., Tomlinson, B. E: Neurotransmitter enzyme abnormalities in senile dementia. J. Neurol. Sci. 34, 247–265 (1977)Google Scholar
  29. Pfeiffer, C. C., Goldstein, L., Munoz, C., Murphree, H., Jenney, E. H.: Quantitative comparisons of the electrophalographic stimulant effects of deanol, choline, and amphetamine. Clin. Pharmacol. Ther. 4, 461–466 (1963)Google Scholar
  30. Rabbitt, P. M. A.: Set and age in a choice-response task. J. Gerontol. 19, 301–306 (1964)Google Scholar
  31. Rabbitt, P.: Age and the use of structure in transmitted information. In: Human aging and behavior, G. A. Talland, ed., pp. 75–92. New York: Academic 1968Google Scholar
  32. Safer, D. J., Allen, R. P.: The central effects of scopolamine in man. Biol. Psychiatry 3, 347–355 (1971)Google Scholar
  33. Schonfield, D., Robertson, B.: Memory storage and aging. Can. J. Psychol. 20, 228–236 (1966)Google Scholar
  34. Schwent, V. L., Hillyard, S. A.: Evoked potential correlates of selective attention with multi-channel auditory inputs. Electroencephalogr. Clin. Neurophysiol. 38, 131–138 (1975)Google Scholar
  35. Squires, K. C., Hillyard, S. A., Lindsay, P. H.: Vertex potentials evoked during signal detection: Relation to decision criteria. Percept. Psychophysics 14, 265–272 (1973)Google Scholar
  36. Talland, G. A.: Initiation of response and reaction time in aging, and with brain damage. In: Behaviour, aging and the nervous system, A. T. Welford, J. E. Birren, eds., pp. 526–561. Springfield: Ch. C. Thomas 1965Google Scholar
  37. Thorndike, E. L., Lorge, I.: The teacher's word book of 30,000 words. New York: Bureau of Publications Teachers College 1944Google Scholar
  38. Welford, A. T.: Motor performance. In: Handbook of the psychology of aging, J. E. Birren, K. W. Schaie, eds., pp. 450–496. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold 1977Google Scholar
  39. Wenzel, D. G., Rutledge, O.: Effects of centrally acting drugs on human motor and psychomotor performance. J. Pharm. Sci. 51, 631–644 (1962)Google Scholar
  40. Zung, W., Gianturco, D. T., Pfeiffer, E., Wang, H. S., Whanger, A., Bridge, T. P., Potkin, S. G.: Pharmacology of antidepressants in the aged: Evaluation of Gerovital-H3 as an antidepressant drug. Psychosomatics 15, 127–131 (1974)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gail R. Marsh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Markku Linnoila
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Center for the Study of Aging and Human DevelopmentDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations