Selective Attention, Memory, and the Locus Coeruleus

  • Susan J. Sara
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 28)


The role of locus coeruleus (LC) in attention, arousal and behavioral plasticity has attracted the interest of many investigators studying LC function at different levels— from cellular to behavioral. These studies have used many different techniques including electrical stimulation and intracellular recording, neurotoxic lesions and behavioral analysis, pharmacological intervention and neurochemical assays. The common interest is in how the noradrenergic projections to the forebrain are involved in cognitive function, particularly regulation of attention and arousal, but also in developmental plasticity, learning and memory. Those who have used a behavioral approach to understanding LC function have relied heavily on neuroanatomical and electrophysiological data to provide their hypotheses (see below; also Robbins and Everitt; Velley et al., this volume). At the same time, those who have studied the effects of noradrenaline (NE) on cellular activity and reactivity, or the effects of exogenous stimulation on the activity of LC neurons, have proposed an important role for the LC system in the regulation of attention, arousal, and behavioral plasticity (Aston-Jones; Segal; Kasamatsu, this volume).


Selective Attention Locus Coeruleus Memory Retrieval Behavioral Plasticity Locus Coeruleus Neuron 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aston-Jones, G. and Bloom, F., 1981, Norepinepherine-containing locus coeruleus neurons in behaving rats exhibit pronounced responses to non noxious environmental stimuli, J. Neurosc, 1:887.Google Scholar
  2. Deweer, B., Sara, S. and Hars, B., 1980, Contextual cues and memory retrieval in rats: alleviation of forgetting by a pretest exposure to background stimuli, Anirru Learn. Behav., 8: 265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Deweer, B. and Sara, S.J., 1984, Background stimuli as a reminder after spontaneous forgetting: role of duration of cuing and cuing-test interval, Anim. Learn. Behav., 12:238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dinan, T., Shaver, R. and Aston-Jones, G., 1983, Haloperidol alters activity of locus coeruleus neurons, Soc. Neurosci. Abs., 2:1000.Google Scholar
  5. Goldberg, M. and Robertson, D., 1983, Yohimbine: a pharmacological probe for study of the -adrenoreceptors, Pharmacol. Rev., 35:143.Google Scholar
  6. Iversen, L.I., Rossor, M.N., Hills, G.P., Roth, M., Mounjoy, C.Q., Foote, S.L., Morrison, J.H. and Bloom, F.E., 1983, Loss of pigmented dopamide beta hydroxylase positive cells from locus coeruleus in senile dementia of Alzheimer’s type, Neurosci. Lett., 39:95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. McEntee, W. and Mair, R, 1980, Memory enhancement in Korsakoff’s psychosis by Clonidine: further evidence for a noradrenergic deficit, Ann.Neurol., 7:466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Morgane, P. and Jacobs, M., 1979, Raphe projections to the locus coeruleus in the rat, Brain Res. Bul., 4:519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Olpe, H.R., Jones, R. and Steinmann, M., 1983, The locus coeruleus: actions of psychoactive drugs, Experientia, 39:242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Pisa, M. and Fibiger, H., 1983, Evidence against a role of the rat’s dorsal noradrenergic bundle in selective attention and place memory, Brain Res., 272:319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Robbins, T.W., 1984, Cortical noradrenaline, attention and arousal, Psychol. Med., 14:13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Sara, S.J., 1980, Memory retrieval deficits: alleviation by etiracetam, a nootropic drug, Psychopharm., 68:235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Sara, S.J., 1985, Noradrenergic modulation of selective attention: its role in memory retrieval, in “Memory Dysfunctions: An Integration of Animal and Human Research from Clinical and Preclinical Perspectives,” D. Olton, E. Gamzu and S. Corkin, eds., Ann. New York Acad. Sci. in press.Google Scholar
  14. Sara, S.J. and David-Remacle, M., 1975, Recovery from electroconvulsive shock-induced amnesia by exposure to the training environment: pharmacological enhancement by piracetam, Psychopharm., 36:59.Google Scholar
  15. Sara, S.J. and Deweer, B., 1982, Memory retrieval enhanced by amphetamine after a long retention interval, Behav. Neural Biol., 36:146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sara, S.J., Dekeyne, A., Raguin, L. and Brouillet, E., 1984, Approach and avoidance discrimination learning and retention after treatment with the noradrenergic neurotoxin DSP4, Neurosci. Lett., Suppl. 18, 119.Google Scholar
  17. Sara, S.J., David, M., Weyers, M. and Guirgea, C., 1979, Piracetam facilitates retrieval but does not impair extinction of bar pressing in rats, Psychopharm., 61:(1), 71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sara, S.J., Deweer, B. and Hars, B., 1980, Reticular stimulation facilitates retrieval of a “forgotten” maze habit, Neurosci. Lett., 18:211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sara, S.J., Grecksch, G. and Leviel, V., 1984, Intracerebral ventricular apomorphine alleviates spontaneous forgetting and increases cortical noradrenaline, Behav. Brain Res., 13:42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Segal, M. and Edelson, A., 1978, Effects of priming stimulation of catecholamine containing nuclei in rat brain on runway performance, Brain Res. Bull., 3:203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Segal, M. and Bloom, F., 1976, Norepinephrine in the rat hippocampus III Stimulation of nucleus locus coeruleus in the awake rat, Brain Res. 107:499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Talland, G., 1965, “Deranged memory,” Academic Press.Google Scholar
  23. Van Dongen, P., 1981, The human locus coeruleus in neurology and psychiatry. Proqr. Neurobiol., 17:97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Waterhouse, B.D., Moises, H. and Woodward, D., 1980, Locus coeruleus stimulation potentiates somatosensory cortical neuronal responses to afferent synaptic inputs, Soc. Neurosci. Abst., 6:448.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan J. Sara
    • 1
  1. 1.Departement de Psychophysiologie, Laboratoire de Physiologie NerveuseC. N. R. S.Gif/YvetteFrance

Personalised recommendations