Definition

These are CNS neurons located in the fairly ventral (basal) and anterior (forebrain) regions of the CNS which display a cholinergic phenotype (i.e., generating and releasing the neurotransmitter ► acetylcholine (ACh)). Two main neuronal nuclei have shown marked dependency on NGF support: the medial septum and the nucleus basalis. The first provides the main cholinergic input to the hippo-campal complex and the second to the cerebral cortex. These systems are thought to be very relevant for attention, memory, and learning mechanisms. These neurons are affected by the aging process and they are the earliest compromised and the most vulnerable to the Alzheimer's pathology. In the human species and primates, the nucleus basalis is also referred to as the nucleus magnocellularis of Meynert. This nomenclature does not apply to rodents, given fundamental differences in the nuclear organization.

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