How do dopaminergic stimulants like Adderall/Ritalin affect acetylcholine signalling?


Answer by Jens Mowatt:

Amphetamines like Adderall (L-amphetamine), Ritalin (Methylphendiate) and Dexedrin (D-amphetamine) are all slightly different. Keep in mind that almost all the studies I’ll cite use D-amphetamine, the mirror molecule of Adderall. All of the amphetamines act to increase dopaminergic transmission, so it is quite likely that they have similar effects on acetylcholine (but I’m not entirely certain about this).

Administration of amphetamines reverses dopamine transporters, leading to increased dopamine release by neurons of the mesolimbic, mesocortical, and nigrostriatal pathways. By acting on areas such as the nucleus accumbens (in the limbic system), cerebral cortex, and striatum (part of the basal ganglia), dopamine exerts its effects.

Downstream, there are many different types of neurons that are affected by dopamine, including ones that utilize acetylcholine (called “cholinergic” neurons). In general, amphetamine administration leads to an increase in cholinergic activity. I’ll give you a…

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