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CCN Brown Bag Series

Wednesday, December 05, 2018,

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  • Location: Wilson Hall • 111 21St Ave S • Nashville, TN 37240
  • Room: 115

Ali Hassani

Department of Psychology (Womelsdorf Lab)

Vanderbilt University

"The multi-modulator brain: Exploring norepinephrine’s role in learning and behavior"

Any given cognitive behavior has an inverted-U relationship with arousal, where too much or too little is not conducive to optimal performance. Arousal and its associated properties are a product of the many signaling molecules in the brain commonly referred to as neuromodulators. Neuromodulators are defined here as chemical signals that act on metabotropic receptors. One such neuromodulator is norepinephrine (NE). The locus coeruleus is a brainstem nucleus responsible for virtually all of the NE innervation of the cortex. Several families of receptors respond to NE as their ligand. Here, I will explore how guanfacine, a specific agonist of a noradrenergic receptor subtype improves non-human primate behavior in a feature-based reversal learning task. I will also discuss the interconnected nature of neuromodulatory systems and a new tool to measure multiple neuromodulators simultaneously. Finally, I will discuss future plans to test the GAIN model of noradrenergic action in the cortex.