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Cholinergic Signaling Dynamics and Cognitive Control of Attention

  • Vinay ParikhEmail author
  • Debra A. Bangasser
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series


The central cholinergic system is one of the most important modulator neurotransmitter system implicated in diverse behavioral processes. Activation of the basal forebrain cortical cholinergic input system represents a critical step in cortical information processing. This chapter explores recent developments illustrating cortical cholinergic transmission mediate defined cognitive operations, which is contrary to the traditional view that acetylcholine acts as a slowly acting neuromodulator that influences arousal cortex-wide. Specifically, we review the evidence that phasic cholinergic signaling in the prefrontal cortex is a causal mediator of signal detection. In addition, studies that support the neuromodulatory role of cholinergic inputs in top-down attentional control are summarized. Finally, we review new findings that reveal sex differences and hormonal regulation of the cholinergic-attention system.


Acetylcholine Attention Muscarinic receptors Nicotinic receptors Sex differences 



The authors’ research is supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging (AG046580) to VP and National Science Foundation (NSF CAREER IOS-15524) to DAB.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Neuroscience ProgramTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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