For a decade and a half, nitric oxide (NO) has been implicated in memory processing across a wide variety of tasks and species. Comparatively, endogenously produced carbon monoxide (CO) has lagged behind as a target for research into the pharmacological processes underlying memory formation. This is surprising given that CO is formed in memory-associated brain regions, is structurally similar to NO, and along with NO can activate guanylate cyclase, which is an enzyme well characterized in memory processing. Nevertheless, a limited number of electrophysiological investigations have concluded that endogenous CO is involved in long-term potentiation. Although not evidence for a role in memory per se, these studies did point to the possible importance of CO in memory processing. In addition, there is now evidence to suggest that endogenous CO is important in avoidance learning and possible for other tasks. This review therefore seeks to promote endogenous CO as a potentially important target for memory research.

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