[Noradrenaline and behavior]

Cesk Fysiol. 2010;59(2):51-8.
[Article in Czech]


Noradrenaline exerts many effects and mediates a number of functions in living organisms. Recently, the essential role of noradrenaline in the central nervous system (CNS) has emerged. Noradrenaline affects behaviors of individuals including a modulation of vigilance, arousal, attention, motivation, reward, and also learning and memory. Almost all brain noradrenergic fibers arise in brainstem nuclei designated A1-A7 (approximately half of neurons belongs to the brainstem nucleus, locus coeruleus). The effects of noradrenaline are mediated by two distinct super-families of receptors, named alpha- and beta-adrenoceptors. They are further divided into subgroups exhibiting specific roles in modulating behavior and cognition of animals. Adrenoceptors are located on the periphery as well as in the CNS and selective alpha- and beta-agonists and antagonists are used to assess their function. The purpose of this review is to summarize the findings about anatomy and physiology of the noradrenergic system in the CNS and discuss the pharmacological effects on specific adrenoceptor types. This paper also shows the importance of noradrenaline to maintain the cognitive processes such as attention, perception, and particularly the memory consolidation and retrieval. Disruption of these processes may result in symptoms of neuropsychiatric diseases and neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / metabolism


  • Receptors, Adrenergic
  • Norepinephrine