Noradrenergic neurotransmission has been associated with the modulation of higher cognitive functions mediated by the prefrontal cortex. In the present study, the impact of noradrenergic stimulation on the human action-monitoring system, as indexed by event-related brain potentials, was examined. After the administration of a placebo or the selective α2-adrenoceptor antagonist yohimbine, which stimulates firing in the locus ceruleus and noradrenaline release, electroencephalograpic recordings were obtained from healthy volunteers performing a letter flanker task. Yohimbine led to an increase in the amplitude of the error-related negativity in conjunction with a significant reduction of action errors. Reaction times were unchanged, and the drug did not modify the N2 in congruent versus incongruent trials, a measure of preresponse conflict, or posterror adjustments as measured by posterror slowing of reaction time. The present findings suggest that the locus ceruleus-noradrenaline system exerts a rather specific effect on human action monitoring.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)