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Your Brain on FoodHow Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings$
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Gary Wenk

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388541.001.0001

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Memories, Magic, & a Major Addiction

Memories, Magic, & a Major Addiction

Chapter:
(p.23) chapter 2 Memories, Magic, & a Major Addiction
Source:
Your Brain on Food
Author(s):

Gary L. Wenk

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388541.003.0002

The actions of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine influence the function of many brain regions. Within these regions, acetylcholine allows you to learn and remember, to regulate your attention and mood, and to control how well you can move. Thus, anything that affects the function of acetylcholine neurons has the potential to affect all of these brain and body functions. In the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease acetylcholine neurons very slowly die. Because of this these people have difficulty paying attention or remembering almost everything. Blocking the actions of acetylcholine can have a wide range of consequences, a fact that was recognized by Homer, voodoo priests, and witches during the darks ages. Various nuts, mushrooms, and plants, such as the infamous tobacco leaf, contain chemicals that can either mimic or antagonize the actions of acetylcholine in the brain; the consequences of which include feelings of happiness, relaxation, and well-being as well as dramatic hallucinations that lead to the adventures of Alice in Wonderland.

Keywords:   acetylcholine, nicotine, curare, Alzheimer's disease, attention, memory, choline, physostigmine, botulinum toxin, atropine

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