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Behavioral/Systems/Cognitive Phasic Activation of Monkey Locus Ceruleus Neurons by

Summary: Behavioral/Systems/Cognitive
Phasic Activation of Monkey Locus Ceruleus Neurons by
Simple Decisions in a Forced-Choice Task
Edwin C. Clayton,1 Janusz Rajkowski,1 Jonathan D. Cohen,2 and Gary Aston-Jones1
1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, and 2Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton,
New Jersey 08544
The noradrenergic locus ceruleus (LC) system has been implicated in several behavioral functions, most notably, response to salient
sensory events. Here, we provide new evidence indicating a role in the execution of responses associated with simple decisions. We
examined impulse activity of monkey LC neurons during performance of a forced-choice discrimination task. The timing of LC activity
more closely tracked behavioral responses than stimulus presentation. LC neurons were phasically activated preceding behavioral
responses for both correct and incorrect identifications but were not activated by stimuli that failed to elicit lever responses nor by
nontask-related lever movements. We hypothesize that the LC responds to the outcome of task-related decision processes, facilitating
their influence on overt behavior. This role of the LC in regulating the behavioral outcome of decisional processes contrasts with more
traditional views of LC responses as primarily related to sensory processes.
Key words: primate; electrophysiology; norepinephrine; attention; cognition; vigilance
The noradrenergic brain nucleus locus ceruleus (LC) is impli-
cated in a wide variety of CNS processes, including attention
(Aston-Jones et al., 1994, 2000; Dalley et al., 2001), arousal
(Aston-Jones and Bloom, 1981; Robbins, 1997, 2000), and mem-


Source: Aston-Jones, Gary - Department of Neurosciences, Medical University of South Carolina


Collections: Biology and Medicine