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The locus coeruleus and regulation of behavioral flexibility and attention

Summary: 7
The locus coeruleus and regulation of
behavioral flexibility and attention:
clinical implications
Gary Aston-Jones, Michiyo Iba, Edwin Clayton, Janusz Rajkowski
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
Jonathan Cohen
Princeton University, Princeton, USA
It has been proposed that the locus coeruleus (LC) regulates nonspecific arousal
and thereby may participate in a wide range of functions. Our work indicates that,
while the LC may indeed play an important role in arousal, it has more specific
effects on behavior and may regulate cortical mechanisms involved in selective
attention and task performance. In one study, we recorded impulse activity of LC
neurons in monkeys performing a visual discrimination task. Phasic and tonic
firing characteristics of LC neurons varied in close relation to task performance.
Phasically, LC neurons were selectively activated by target cues and not by other
task events, including behavioral responses. The target-elicited LC responses were
limited to periods of good performance, when tonic firing rates were at an inter-


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


Collections: Biology and Medicine