Facilitation of cognitive functions by a specific alpha2-adrenoceptor antagonist, atipamezole

Eur J Pharmacol. 1998 Apr 17;347(1):29-40. doi: 10.1016/s0014-2999(98)00077-6.


The present experiments investigated the effects of a specific and potent alpha2-adrenoceptor antagonist, atipamezole (as a stimulator of the noradrenergic system) on cognitive performance in rats. Atipamezole enhanced the acquisition of a linear-arm maze test and also improved the choice accuracy of poorly performing rats in a delayed (20 min) three-choice maze test. Furthermore, atipamezole improved the achievement of a one-trial appetite-maze when injected immediately after teaching, thus having an effect on consolidation. Atipamezole clearly impaired the acquisition of the active avoidance test. The present results indicate that stimulation of noradrenergic system by atipamezole improves the performance of animals in tasks assessing relational learning and memory, possibly affecting attention, short-term memory and the speed of information processing. It has also an effect on a consolidation process unrelated to attentional or motivational mechanisms. In a stressful test. stimulation of noradrenaline release leads to impairment of performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-2 Receptor Antagonists*
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spatial Behavior / drug effects
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Adrenergic alpha-2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Imidazoles
  • atipamezole