Basal Forebrain Cholinergic Circuits and Signaling in Cognition and Cognitive Decline

Neuron. 2016 Sep 21;91(6):1199-1218. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.09.006.


Recent work continues to place cholinergic circuits at center stage for normal executive and mnemonic functioning and provides compelling evidence that the loss of cholinergic signaling and cognitive decline are inextricably linked. This Review focuses on the last few years of studies on the mechanisms by which cholinergic signaling contributes to circuit activity related to cognition. We attempt to identify areas of controversy, as well as consensus, on what is and is not yet known about how cholinergic signaling in the CNS contributes to normal cognitive processes. In addition, we delineate the findings from recent work on the extent to which dysfunction of cholinergic circuits contributes to cognitive decline associated with neurodegenerative disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / physiology
  • Animals
  • Basal Forebrain / cytology*
  • Basal Forebrain / physiology*
  • Cholinergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*


  • Acetylcholine