The interest in cholesterol as a substance that is related to psychological well-being stems back to the 1980s. During this period, a number of epi-demiological studies found that individuals with low cholesterol levels were more prone to aggressive behavior and at greater risk of suicide and violent death. In addition, it was found that non-human primates increased their incidence of aggressive behavior when kept on a low-cholesterol diet. In terms of neuropsychological function, a number of studies have found associations between cholesterol levels and choice reaction time and/or memory function. Two of these studies sought actively to reduce cholesterol levels by pharmacological or dietary means: both found that lowering cholesterol produced small but statistically significant impairments in memory and attention. Conversely, however, a number of studies have demonstrated that high cholesterol levels are a significant risk factor for the development of Alzheimer's dementia. One mechanism for the negative effects of cholesterol lowering may be that neural cell walls lose their rigidity, thereby decreasing the relative exposure of serotonin (5-HT) membrane receptors at the synaptic cleft and impeding 5-HT signal transmission.
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