Neuromodulatory Influences on Integration and Segregation in the Brain

Trends Cogn Sci. 2019 Jul;23(7):572-583. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2019.04.002. Epub 2019 May 7.


Cognitive function relies on the dynamic cooperation of specialized regions of the brain; however, the elements of the system responsible for coordinating this interaction remain poorly understood. In this Opinion article I argue that this capacity is mediated in part by competitive and cooperative dynamic interactions between two prominent metabotropic neuromodulatory systems - the cholinergic basal forebrain and the noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC). I assert that activity in these projection nuclei regulates the amount of segregation and integration within the whole brain network by modulating the activity of a diverse set of specialized regions of the brain on a timescale relevant for cognition and attention.

Keywords: acetyl choline; integration; neural gain; neuromodulation; noradrenaline; segregation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Neurons / physiology
  • Basal Forebrain / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cholinergic Neurons / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Humans
  • Locus Coeruleus / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology