Neurocognitive effects of acute choline supplementation in low, medium and high performer healthy volunteers

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2015 Apr;131:119-29. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2015.02.004. Epub 2015 Feb 12.


Novel pharmacological treatments targeting alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7 nAChR) hypofunction in schizophrenia have shown mixed success in ameliorating cognitive impairments associated with this disorder. Choline, a selective agonist at α7 receptors is increased with oral administration of cytidine 5'-diphosphocholine (CDP-choline), the cognitive effects of which were assessed in healthy volunteers. Using the CogState test battery, behavioral performance in schizophrenia-relevant cognitive domains was assessed in 24 male participants following a single low (500mg) and moderate (1000mg) dose of CDP-choline. Relative to placebo, CDP-choline improved processing speed, working memory, verbal learning, verbal memory, and executive function in low baseline performers, while exerting no effects in medium baseline performers, and diminishing cognition in high baseline performers. Dose effects varied with cognitive domain but were evident with both the 500mg and 1000mg doses. These preliminary findings of cognitive enhancement in relatively impaired performers are consistent with the α7 receptor mechanism and support further trials with CDP-choline as a potential pro-cognitive strategy for cognitive impairment in schizophrenia.

Keywords: Alpha-7 nicotinic receptors; CDP-choline; CogState battery; Cognition; Healthy volunteers; Performance.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choline / administration & dosage
  • Choline / pharmacology*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Nootropic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Nootropic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Young Adult


  • Nootropic Agents
  • Choline