Great emphasis is being placed on identification of neurotransmitter systems involved in the symptomatic manifestations of neurological and psychiatric disorders. In the case of Alzheimer's disease, which now seems to be one of the most common causes of mental deterioration in the elderly, compelling evidence has been developed that acetylcholine-releasing neurons, whose cell bodies lie in the basal forebrain, selectively degenerate. These cholinergic neurons provide widespread innervation of the cerebral cortex and related structures and appear to play an important role in cognitive functions, especially memory. These advances reflect a close interaction between experimental and clinical neuroscientists in which information derived from basic neurobiology is rapidly utilized to analyze disorders of the human brain.
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