Redefining Noradrenergic Neuromodulation of Behavior: Impacts of a Modular Locus Coeruleus Architecture

Dan J. Chandler, Patricia Jensen, Jordan G. McCall, Anthony E. Pickering, Lindsay A. Schwarz, Nelson K. Totah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The locus coeruleus (LC) is a seemingly singular and compact neuromodulatory nucleus that is a prominent component of disparate theories of brain function due to its broad noradrenergic projections throughout the CNS. As a diffuse neuromodulatory system, noradrenaline affects learning and decision making, control of sleep and wakefulness, sensory salience including pain, and the physiology of correlated forebrain activity (ensembles and networks) and brain hemodynamic responses. However, our understanding of the LC is undergoing a dramatic shift due to the application of state-of-the-art methods that reveal a nucleus of many modules that provide targeted neuromodulation. Here, we review the evidence supporting a modular LC based on multiple levels of observation (developmental, genetic, molecular, anatomical, and neurophysiological). We suggest that the concept of the LC as a singular nucleus and, alongside it, the role of the LC in diverse theories of brain function must be reconsidered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8239-8249
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 16 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


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