Role of the Locus Coeruleus-Norepinephrine System in Attention and Behavioral Flexibility

  • Gary Aston-Jones
  • Janusz Rajkowski
  • Jonathan Cohen
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 53)


The ability to respond selectively to certain aspects of the environment, and filter-out others that are irrelevant to the current behavioral plan, is critical for goal-directed behavior. At the same time, behavior must be flexible and adaptive, so as to quickly adjust to new imperative, or unexpected events. Thus, successful behavior in both animals and humans requires the capacity for both selective responding in a stable environment, and rapid adaptive responding in a changing environment. Our recent work on the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system has led us to hypothesize that it plays a central role in regulating this balance between focused vs. flexible responding.


Target Stimulus Locus Coeruleus Tonic Activity Vigilance Task Locus Coeruleus Neuron 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Aston-Jones
    • 1
  • Janusz Rajkowski
    • 1
  • Jonathan Cohen
    • 2
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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