Independent contributions of noradrenaline to behavioural flexibility and motivation
Jahn CI., Gilardeau S., Varazzani C., Blain B., Sallet J., Walton M., Bouret S.
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.