Use of learned odor cues by newborn rats is critical for pup survival. Rat pups acquire approach responses to maternal odors through an associative conditioning mechanism. This learned behavioral response is accompanied by a modification of olfactory bulb neural response patterns to the learned odor. Both the behavioral and neural response changes involved and require norepinephrine release in the olfactory bulb. The source of this norepinephrine is the locus coeruleus. It is proposed that the unique response properties of the locus coeruleus during the early postnatal period in the rat may facilitate acquisition of these critical early memories.