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Cell counts have been performed on cholinergic subcortical nuclei, dorsal raphe nucleus, and locus caeruleus from up to 18 cases of Alzheimer's disease and 10 age-matched control subjects. In general, the extent of cell loss in these structures was similar. In the basal nucleus the anteromedial subdivision was the least, and the posterior subdivision the most affected. A subgroup of demented subjects with Alzheimer's disease had a relatively preserved basal nucleus, and frontal lobe (CAT) choline acetyltransferase activities similar to those in control subjects, but significantly more neuronal loss in the locus caeruleus.