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Nicotinic Receptors: Implications for Psychiatric Care

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Nicotinic receptor activation up-regulates norepinephrine, glutamate, gamma-aminobutyric acid, and dopamine and appears to improve attention, memory, pain, mood, and cognition, dependent upon the receptor subtype activated (Adler et al, 1998; Friedman, Stewart, & Gorman, 2004; Gotti et al., 2007; McEvoy, 2005; Sacco, Bannon, & George, 2004). Conversely, down-regulation of nicotinic receptors may be linked to poor attention (e.g. attention-deficit /hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], sensory gating dysfunction), schizophrenia, memory problems, pain, dysphoria, and impaired cognition (Gotti & Clementi, 2004).

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