Responses of primate locus coeruleus and subcoeruleus neurons to stimulation at reinforcing brain sites and to natural reinforcers

Dwight C. German, Eberhard E. Fetz

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In alert rhesus monkeys the activity of 64 neurons was recorded in the locus coeruleus and subcoeruleus region, collectively referred to as coeruleus (C) neurons. C neurons were identified physiologically by antidromic activation from electrodes in the medial forebrain bundle (MFB) and medial septal nucleus which sustained intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) behavior, and/or anatomically by their proximity to microlesions at unit recording sites. The following results were obtained: (1) the current intensity that supported the highest rate of MFB and septal ICSS was similar to the current intensity for evoking antidromic responses in C neurons; (2) stimulation in the vicinity of the dopaminergic neurons of nucleus A10 did not activate C neurons; (3) C neurons were antidromically activated by ipsilateral and contralateral MFB shocks; (4) the C axons had slow estimated conduction velocities (1-5 m/sec), and a mean neural refractory period of 0.8 msec; (5) the behaviorally determined refractory period for MFB ICSS was also approximately 0.8 msec; and (6) mean firing rates while the monkey sat quietly were 15 ± 2 Hz (S.D.) for subcoeruleus cells and 5 ± 3 Hz for locus coeruleus cells, and activity of most cells changed negligibly during operant responding for apple-sauce reinforcement. These results suggest that the reinforcing effects of ICSS may be mediated by activation of coeruleus cells, but that these cells do not appear to be strongly involved in operant responding for natural reinforcers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-514
Number of pages18
JournalBrain Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 18 1976


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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