Michael Silver (University of California, Berkeley)
Venue: Room 218, Henry Wellcome Building, Newcastle University
Date: 20th December 2010
Time: 16:00 - 17:00
The neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) has been extensively studied in animals, but comparatively little is known about its effects on perception and cognition in humans. We increased synaptic levels of ACh in the brains of healthy human participants by administering the cholinesterase inhibitor donepezil (trade name: Aricept). I will describe a series of experiments that documents the effects of increased ACh on perceptual learning, visual spatial attention, and encoding of stimulus information in visual cortex. The results demonstrate that pharmacological enhancement of cholinergic transmission produces many of the same effects as allocation of endogenous attention, including facilitation of perceptual learning and an increase in the selectivity of visual cortical responses to visual stimuli.
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