The strength of the McCollough effect (ME), a pattern-contingent colour aftereffect, has been shown to be inversely related to acetylcholine, being significantly strengthened by (anticholinergic) scopolamine and weakened by (cholinergic) physostigmine delivered before adapting to the ME stimuli. The purpose of the present study was (i) to establish whether the effect of pre-adaptation scopolamine is linearly dose-dependent and (ii) to investigate the effects of scopolamine and physostigmine delivered between adaptation and testing. In experiment 1, ten healthy male volunteers who received placebo, or 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg, or 1.8 mg scopolamine before adapting to ME stimuli showed a significant linear dose-dependence over tests repeated from 10 to 70 min after adaptation. In experiment 2 twelve male volunteers adapted to ME stimuli and then received placebo, 1.2 mg oral scopolamine, or 0.75 mg subcutaneous physostigmine. On subsequent repeated testing, strength of the ME was increased by scopolamine and decreased by physostigmine relative to placebo. Both experiments were double-blind double-dummy repeated measures. These data support the view that the ME is a product of inhibitory mechanisms in the visual system rather than processes involved in associative learning.
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