Cholinergic systems and schizophrenia: Primary pathology or epiphenomena?

Thomas M. Hyde, Jeremy M. Crook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Post mortem schizophrenia research has been driven first by the dopamine and then the glutamate hypotheses. These hypotheses posit primary pathology in pathways dependent upon dopamine or glutamate neurotransmission. Although the dopamine and glutamate hypotheses retain considerable theoretical strength, neurobiological findings of altered dopamine or glutamate activity in schizophrenia do not explain all features of this disorder. A more synthetic approach would suggest that focal pathological change in either the prefrontal cortex or mesial temporal lobe leads to neurochemical changes in multiple neurotransmitter systems. Despite the limited experimental evidence for abnormal cholinergic neurotransmission in psychiatric disorders, increased understanding of the role of acetylcholine in the human brain and its relationship to other neurotransmitter systems has led to a rapidly growing interest in the cholinergic system in schizophrenia. This review focuses on the basic anatomy of the mammalian cholinergic system, and its possible involvement in the neurobiology of schizophrenia. Summaries of cholinergic cell groups, projection pathways, and receptor systems, in the primate and human brain, are followed by a brief discussion of the functional correlations between aberrant cholinergic neurotransmission and the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-63
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Cholinergic systems
  • Epiphenomena
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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