Dual contributions of noradrenaline to behavioural flexibility and motivation.
Jahn CI., Gilardeau S., Varazzani C., Blain B., Sallet J., Walton ME., Bouret S.
INTRODUCTION: While several theories have highlighted the importance of the noradrenergic system for behavioral flexibility, a number of recent studies have also shown a role for noradrenaline in motivation, particularly in effort processing. Here, we designed a novel sequential cost/benefit decision task to test the causal influence of noradrenaline on these two functions in rhesus monkeys. METHODS: We manipulated noradrenaline using clonidine, an alpha-2 noradrenergic receptor agonist, which reduces central noradrenaline levels and examined how this manipulation influenced performance on the task. RESULTS: Clonidine had two specific and distinct effects: first, it decreased choice variability, without affecting the cost/benefit trade-off; and second, it reduced force production, without modulating the willingness to work. CONCLUSIONS: Together, these results support an overarching role for noradrenaline in facing challenging situations in two complementary ways: by modulating behavioral volatility, which would facilitate adaptation depending on the lability of the environment, and by modulating the mobilization of resources to face immediate challenges.