Cholinergic Substrates of Behavior

  • R. W. Russell
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 24)


Somewhat more than a quarter century ago a group of biomedical scientists spent a very interesting day in a large mental hospital — not as inmates but in observing two patients. The behavior of both of these patients was to change dramatically during the short period of a few hours. One was suffering from chronic catonia, but within a short time after injection of Cholinesterase (ChE) into the frontal horn of the lateral ventricle through a previously made burr hole, she was smiling, sitting up, and answering simple questions (47). Unfortunately, the change was only temporary. The other “patient” was a normal, healthy cat in the hospital’s research laboratory. Intraventricular injections of the ChE inhibitor, DFP, produced the major signs of catatonia which had characterized the behavior of the human patient. Again the effects were temporary. In both cases manipulation of the cholinergic system had produced concomitant changes in behavior. The effects appeared to be consistent when viewed in terms of events at postsynaptic receptor sites: DFP in cat brain interfered with the destruction of ACh; ChE in the human patient facilitated that process. The behavioral effects were in opposite directions. Later it was proposed (13) that in the former instance “...prolonged action of acetylcholine blocks synaptic transmission...” In the human patient, ChE might have reduced ACh levels thereby removing such blocks.


AChE Activity Cholinergic System Thiamine Deficiency Septal Lesion Cholinergic Mechanism 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. W. Russell
    • 1
  1. 1.The Flinders UniversityBedford ParkAustralia

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