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Neuromodulation of Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity, Learning, and Memory by Noradrenaline

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Neuromodulators are chemical substances that modify neural responses without directly triggering synaptic excitation. They broadly impact multiple brain functions, such as arousal, sleep, attention, perception, learning, and memory. The noradrenergic neuromodulatory system widely innervates the mammalian brain, including the hippocampus. Hippocampal synaptic plasticity is believed to importantly contribute to the formation and consolidation of some types of memory. Stimulation of noradrenergic receptors in the hippocampus alters neuronal excitability and synaptic plasticity, suggesting a key role for noradrenaline (NA) in learning and memory. Consistent with this notion, NA enhances memory for a variety of hippocampus-dependent tasks. The effects of NA receptor activation on cellular plasticity may account for NA-dependent modulation of memory in the hippocampus. Furthermore, dysfunction of the noradrenergic neuromodulatory system contributes to numerous cognitive and psychiatric disorders. Determining how NA influences information processing at cellular and behavioural levels is essential for understanding the physiology of memory. Such understanding may also reveal new strategies to improve treatments for human memory disorders.

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Keywords: Alzheimer's Disease; LTP (long-term potentiation); Noradrenaline; hippocampus; memory; neuromodulation; posttraumatic stress disorder; synaptic plasticity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Alberta, Dept.of Physiology, Medical Sciences Building, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H7, Canada.

Publication date: 01 March 2007

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  • Central Nervous System Agents in Medicinal Chemistry aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design for the discovery of new central nervous system agents. Each issue of the journal will contain a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics in central nervous system medicinal chemistry.

    Central Nervous System Agents in Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments in central nervous system drug discovery.
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