The neurotransmitter histamine has been suggested to be involved in cognitive functioning. Generally, studies in animals have shown a decrease in performance after decreasing histamine neurotransmission and improved performance after increasing histamine neurotransmission. It is unclear, however, what role histamine plays in cognition in humans. Up until now, most data are derived from studies and reviews that aimed to assess the sedative potential of H(1)-antagonists and not the effects on cognition in particular. The objective of this paper is specifically to review which cognitive domains are affected by H(1)-antagonists. Taken together, 90 experimental studies on the performance effects of sedative H(1)-antagonists published between 1973 and 2009 were reviewed. Results showed that psychomotor skills and attention are most frequently impaired and memory the least. Tasks assessing memory that were affected usually required rapid responses. It was concluded that both the complexity of the task as well as the demand for information processing speed determines the sensitivity to the effects of central H(1)-antagonism. The importance of the sensitive cognitive domains to histaminergic dysfunction, as well as the relation between histamine related decrease in arousal and task performance deserve further research.
View graph of relations
- ACTIVE-AVOIDANCE RESPONSE, CAR DRIVING PERFORMANCE, CENTRAL-NERVOUS-SYSTEM, DOUBLE-BLIND, H-1-antagonist, H-3 RECEPTOR ANTAGONISTS, HEALTHY-VOLUNTEERS, Histamine, Human cognition, POSITRON-EMISSION-TOMOGRAPHY, PROPORTIONAL IMPAIRMENT RATIOS, PSYCHOMETRIC TEST-PERFORMANCE, PSYCHOMOTOR PERFORMANCE