The hippocampus is a key brain structure involved in synaptic plasticity associated with long-term declarative memory formation. Importantly, nicotine and activation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) can alter hippocampal plasticity and these changes may occur through modulation of hippocampal kinases and transcription factors. Hippocampal kinases such as cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA), calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases (CAMKs), extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), and c-jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1), and the transcription factor cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) that are activated either directly or indirectly by nicotine may modulate hippocampal plasticity and in parallel hippocampus-dependent learning and memory. Evidence suggests that nicotine may alter hippocampus-dependent learning by changing the time and magnitude of activation of kinases and transcription factors normally involved in learning and by recruiting additional cell signaling molecules. Understanding how nicotine alters learning and memory will advance basic understanding of the neural substrates of learning and aid in understanding mental disorders that involve cognitive and learning deficits.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience