Norepinephrine at the Nexus of Arousal Motivation and Relapse (2016)

Brain Res. 2016 Jan 7. pii: S0006-8993(16)00003-2. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2016.01.002.

España RA1, Schmeichel BE2, Berridge CW3.


Arousal plays a critical role in cognitive, affective and motivational processes. Consistent with this, the dysregulation of arousal-related neural systems is implicated in a variety of psychiatric disorders, including addiction. Noradrenergic systems exert potent arousal-enhancing actions that involve signaling at α1– and β-noradrenergic receptors within a distributed network of subcortical regions. The majority of research into noradrenergic modulation of arousal has focused on the nucleus locus coeruleus. Nevertheless, anatomical studies demonstrate that multiple noradrenergic nuclei innervate subcortical arousal-related regions, providing a substrate for differential regulation of arousal across these distinct noradrenergic nuclei. The arousal-promoting actions of psychostimulants and other drugs of abuse contribute to their widespread abuse. Moreover, relapse can be triggered by a variety of arousal-promoting events, including stress and re-exposure to drugs of abuse. Evidence has long-indicated that norepinephrine plays an important role in relapse. Recent observations suggest that noradrenergic signaling elicits affectively-neutral arousal that is sufficient to reinstate drug seeking. Collectively, these observations indicate that norepinephrine plays a key role in the