Noradrenaline and Selective Attention

  • T. W. Robbins
  • B. J. Everitt
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 28)


There have been a number of hypotheses, derived from both neuro-biological and psychological experiments, about the functions of the locus ceruleus and its projections to the cortex via the dorsal noradrenergic bundle (DNAB). The work of Kasamatsu and colleagues (eg Kasamatsu, 1983) has revealed a role for cortical NA in neuronal plasticity within the visual cortex. Electrophysiological studies, on the other hand, have indicated two major conclusions (eg Segal and Bloom, 1976; Aston-Jones and Bloom, 1981). First, that release of NA in hippocampus, neocortex and cerebellum under certain circumstances enhances the response to signals impinging on those regions via other, more direct afferents. This has been likened to an enhancement of signal-to-noise ratio in the neuronal transmission of evoked responses (eg Segal and Bloom, 1976). Secondly, that NA cells within the locus ceruleus respond rather non-specifically to all forms of environmental input and, moreover, are most active during times of waking (Aston-Jones and Bloom, 1981; Livingstone and Hubel, 1981). Both of the latter findings implicate the locus ceruleus in arousal-like processes, as had earlier been hypothesized (Jouvet, 1974), although how such processes might contribute to neural plasticity is unclear.


Conditioned Stimulus Latent Inhibition Conditioned Suppression Locus Ceruleus Premature Response 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. W. Robbins
    • 1
  • B. J. Everitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Experimental Psychology and AnatomyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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