Cognitive Science Lunchtime Talk
Title: Examining the role of norepinephrine in foraging decisions
Abstract: The locus coeruleus is a tiny region of the brainstem that provides the sole source of norepinephrine to most of the forebrain. Despite its size, it exerts a powerful influence on basic functions like regulating arousal. Recent discoveries suggest that the locus coeruleus may play a more complex role in regulating behavior, influencing animals to exploit a state of high utility in the environment or search for alternative opportunities during states of low utility. To test this hypothesis, we developed a novel foraging task for rats to examine how they decide between exploiting available rewards vs searching for new opportunities and performed pharmacological manipulations to examine the role of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine system in this task.