Impulse conduction properties of noradrenergic locus coeruleus axons projecting to monkey cerebrocortex

Neuroscience. 1985 Jul;15(3):765-77. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(85)90077-6.


Antidromically driven action potentials were recorded from norepinephrine-containing locus coeruleus neurons in response to electrical stimulation of cerebrocortical and thalamic areas in anesthetized squirrel monkeys. These cells reliably conducted impulses from cortical sites of distances up to 100 mm from locus coeruleus. Monkey locus coeruleus neurons were found to exhibit several properties previously described for these cells in rat, including slow spontaneous discharge rates, characteristic impulse waveforms, antidromic activation from many target areas, a period of suppressed activity following either antidromic or orthodromic driving and responsiveness to noxious stimuli presented as subcutaneous electrical stimulation of a rear foot. However, a large population of monkey locus coeruleus neurons was found to exhibit more rapid conduction velocities than previously found for rat (e.g. approximately 34% were greater than 1 m/s), resulting in similar conduction latencies to distant target areas in the two species. This indicates that the conduction times required for locus coeruleus impulses to reach distant target areas may be conserved across different species and sizes of brains, suggesting that these latencies play an important role in the general function of the locus coeruleus system in brain and behavioral processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Locus Coeruleus / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction
  • Norepinephrine / physiology
  • Rats
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Saimiri
  • Sensation / physiology
  • Species Specificity
  • Thalamus / physiology


  • Norepinephrine