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Among neuromodulatory systems, the noradrenergic system remains one of the least understood. Several theories have pointed out its implication in behavioural flexibility and more recently in motivation, with a strong role in effort processing. Here, we designed a sequential cost/benefit decision task to test the causal role of noradrenaline in these two functions. We manipulated noradrenaline using clonidine, an alpha-2 noradrenergic receptor agonist, which reduces central noradrenaline levels. Clonidine had two distinct effects: it decreased choice volatility (without affecting the cost/benefit trade off) and reduced force production. Because the effects were independent, they cannot be accounted for by a non-specific effect on arousal. Altogether, these results support the global implication of noradrenaline in facing challenging situations in two complementary ways: by modulating behavioural volatility, which would facilitate adaptation depending on the lability of the environment, and by modulating the mobilization of resources to face immediate challenges.

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