Noradrenaline and its Possible Role in Imprinting

  • D. C. Davies
  • G. Horn
  • B. J. McCabe
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 28)


It has often been postulated that changes in the connections of neurones underlie memory (see De Feudis and De Feudis, 1977) and that the occurrence of these changes is dependent on the presence of some substance or substances which mediate reinforcement (see Young, 1963; Griffith, 1966). It has been suggested that neurones containing catecholamines, noradrenaline in particular, have such a reinforcing function (Kety, 1967, 1970; Crow, 1968; Crow and Arbuthnott, 1972). In order to test the hypothesis that noradrenaline is implicated in learning, Anlezark et al., (1973) placed lesions in the locus coeruleus, which provides the noradrenergic innervation of the rat cerebral cortex (for review see Amaral and Sinnamon, 1977). These lesions resulted in a reduction in cortical noradrenaline levels to one third of control values and impaired the ability of the lesioned rats to learn a simple approach task, which was reinforced by the reward of food. However, in spite of the promise of this early work, a substantial number of subsequent studies failed to demonstrate an impairment of learning ability after depletion of cerebral noradrenaline levels by either electrocoagulation or chemical lesions of the locus coeruleus, or the dorsal noradrenergic bundle (for review see Mason, 1984).


Locus Coeruleus Preference Score Training Stimulus Noradrenaline Concentration Domestic Chick 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. C. Davies
    • 1
  • G. Horn
    • 2
  • B. J. McCabe
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and Cell BiologySt. Mary’s Hospital Medical SchoolPaddington, LondonUK
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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