Mechanisms of Action of Noradrenaline in the Brain

  • M. Segal
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 28)


The noradrenaline (NA) innervation of the brain has been studied extensively over the past decade. Early views suggested that the nucleus locus coeruleus (LC) has a widespread, diffuse, slow conducting projection system with little anatomical or functional specificity. These views were supported by the observations that (a) the LC projects into nearly every brain structure in a rather diffuse manner, (b) LC fibers are small, unmyelinated and slowly conducting and therefore unlikely to convey specific information (c) action potential discharge rates of LC neurons vary considerably with sleep-wakefulness cycles being nearly silent in REM sleep and (d) iontophoretic application of NA produces in nearly every brain area a long lasting beta receptor-mediated suppression of spontaneous firing rates. It is now clear, however, that these conclusions represent an oversimplification of the actual evidence and that LC functions might be more specific and complex. LC innervation of the for-ebrain is actually quite heterogeneous with some structures being heavily invested with NA fibers while others are relatively devoid of them. Furthermore, within a given structure, e.g. the neocortex, there is a distinct laminar distribution of NA fibers and receptors.


Visual Cortex Locus Coeruleus Medial Septum Spike Discharge Hippocampal Pyramidal Cell 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Segal
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Neurosciences and Behavioral ResearchThe Weizmann Institute of ScienceRehovotIsrael

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