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INTRODUCTION: While several theories have highlighted the importance of the noradrenergic system for behavioral flexibility, a number of recent studies have also shown a role for noradrenaline in motivation, particularly in effort processing. Here, we designed a novel sequential cost/benefit decision task to test the causal influence of noradrenaline on these two functions in rhesus monkeys. METHODS: We manipulated noradrenaline using clonidine, an alpha-2 noradrenergic receptor agonist, which reduces central noradrenaline levels and examined how this manipulation influenced performance on the task. RESULTS: Clonidine had two specific and distinct effects: first, it decreased choice variability, without affecting the cost/benefit trade-off; and second, it reduced force production, without modulating the willingness to work. CONCLUSIONS: Together, these results support an overarching role for noradrenaline in facing challenging situations in two complementary ways: by modulating behavioral volatility, which would facilitate adaptation depending on the lability of the environment, and by modulating the mobilization of resources to face immediate challenges.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychopharmacology (Berl)

Publication Date





2687 - 2702


Behavioral flexibility, Clonidine, Monkey, Motivation, Noradrenaline