28 July 2008

Quote of the day

It was long known that nicotine acts on the same receptor as the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Changeux recognized that this could explain both nicotine's obvious benefits — greater concentration, relaxation, etc. — as well as the drug's more puzzling long-term effects. For instance, while cigarettes are dangerous to health, some studies show that smokers tend to suffer at significantly lower rates from Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Changeux found that nicotine, by attaching to the same receptors as acetylcholine, reproduces some of the benefits of acetylcholine by reinforcing neuronal connections throughout the brain. Nicotine is not exactly the same chemically as acetylcholine, but can mimic its effects.

- How the mind works: revelations

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