Single unit activity of locus coeruleus neurons in the freely moving cat. I. During naturalistic behaviors and in response to simple and complex stimuli

Kurt Rasmussen, David A. Morilak, Barry L. Jacobs

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The single unit activity of presumed noradrenergic (NE) neurons in the area of the locus coeruleus (LC) was recorded in freely moving cats. Consistent with previous reports, the activity of LC neurons was found to be state dependent: active waking > quiet waking > slow wave sleep > REM sleep (virtually silent). The activity of these neurons showed no relationship to movement per se. In response to simple sensory stimulation, LC units showed a short latency, short duration excitatory response. In response to a variety of non-noxious naturalistic stimuli, e.g. rats, food and a conspecific, LC unit activity did not increase above an active waking baseline. However, in response to noxious stimuli, e.g. pinches, visual threats, emesis, and forced treadmill running, LC unit activity increased above that during active waking and reached its highest levels. These data, in conjunction with those in the following report, are consistent with a general role for NE-LC neurons in the organism's adaptive response to environmental and physiological challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-334
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 23 1986



  • behavior
  • freely moving cat
  • locus coeruleus
  • noradrenergic neuron
  • sensory stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology

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