Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit
Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square, LONDON, WC1N 3AR, UK, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7679 1176, Fax +44 (0) 20 7679 1173,



B10 Seminar Room, Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square
London, WC1N 3AR

Supported by The Gatsby Foundation

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Neuromodulation of Prefrontal Cortical Function across Species by Dopamine and Serotonin: Converging Empirical Approaches to Theoretical Issues

T.W. Robbins
Department. of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, UK

The existence of several defined neurochemical systems of the isodendritic core of the brain, arising at different levels within the old "ascending reticular activating system", begs the question of whether they have distinct roles in modulating processing, particularly within a common brain region such as the prefrontal cortex, or whether it is their interactions that provide the best opportunity to relate their functioning to theoretical constructs from psychology or physiology. I will also critically consider how well-known Yerkes-Dodson relationship helps us to understand the nature of modulation. Given the tension between employing sensitive and sophisticated cognitive paradigms relevant to humans, sometimes in the clinical context, and the need to use selective neuropharmacological modes of analysis, it is appropriate to compare strategies across species, including rodents, monkeys and humans. In this presentation, I will focus on several methodologies attempting to enhance the classical psychopharmacological approach: pharmacological functional imaging in humans; the application of selective neurotoxins in marmosets performing tasks analogous to those used in humans; and the implementation of intra-cerebral psychopharmacology in the rat. I will focus on test paradigms that can be studied, to some extent, across species, such as attentional set-shifting and continuous performance tests of attention, as well as spatial working memory and reversal learning. The presentation is intended to complement that of J. Dalley, and will be mainly restricted to studies of the roles of prefrontal dopamine and serotonin