Neuromodulation regulates critical functions of CNS synapses, ranging from neural circuit
development to high-order cognitive processes, including learning and memory. This broad scope of
action is generally mediated through alterations of the strength of synaptic transmission (i.e. synaptic
plasticity). Changes in synaptic strength are widely considered to be a cellular representation of
learned information. Noradrenaline is a neuromodulator that is secreted throughout the brain in response
to novelty or increased arousal. Once released, noradrenaline activates metabotropic receptors,
initiating intracellular signaling cascades that promote enduring changes in synaptic strength and facilitate
memory storage. Here, we provide an overview of noradrenergic modulation of synaptic plasticity
and memory formation within mammalian neural circuits, which has broad applicability within
the neurotherapeutics community. Advances in our understanding of noradrenaline in the context of
these processes may provide a foundation for refining treatment strategies for multiple brain diseases,
ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Keywords: Noradrenaline, memory, hippocampus, beta-adrenergic receptors, long-term potentiation, synaptic plasticity.
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