A body of animal and human evidence points to the norepinephrine (NE) locus coeruleus (LC) system in modulating memory for arousing experiences, but whether the LC would recast its role along memory stages remains unknown. Sedation precluded examination of LC dynamics during memory processing in animals. Here, we addressed the contribution of the LC during arousal-associated memory processing through a unique combination of dedicated ultra-high-field LC-imaging methods, a well-established emotional memory task, online physiological and saliva alpha-amylase measurements in young adults. Arousal-related LC activation followed amygdala engagement during encoding. During consolidation and recollection, activation transitioned to hippocampal involvement, reflecting learning and model updating. NE-LC activation is dynamic, plays an arousal-controlling role, and is not sufficient but requires interactions with the amygdala to form adaptive memories of emotional experiences. These findings have implications for understanding contributions of LC dysregulation to disruptions in emotional memory formation, observed in psychiatric and neurocognitive disorders.
- Heidi IL Jacobs
- Heidi IL Jacobs
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: All participants provided written informed. Approval of the experimental protocol was obtained from the local ethical committee of the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University (#07_11_2014_A1).
- Dorothea Hämmerer, UCL, United Kingdom
- Received: September 20, 2019
- Accepted: June 24, 2020
- Accepted Manuscript published: June 24, 2020 (version 1)
© 2020, Jacobs et al.
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