from the now-hear^W-see-this! dept.
In a paper published Dec. 17 in the journal Science Advances, authors from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (also referred to as UT Health San Antonio) report that norepinephrine, a fundamental chemical for brain performance, is locally regulated in a brain region called the visual cortex.
"Before our study, research suggested the possibility of local regulation of norepinephrine release, but it had never been directly demonstrated," said study senior author Martin Paukert, MD, assistant professor of cellular and integrative physiology at UT Health San Antonio.
[...] Norepinephrine is known to be involved in paying attention. "A certain amount of this chemical needs to be released for optimum brain performance and ability to pay attention," Dr. Paukert said. "So, if there is either too much of it or too little of it, it may affect how we process information."
[...] The team's findings also extend to cells called astrocytes that function as helper cells in the brain and central nervous system.
"When a person makes a movement, such as turning the head to listen to a parent, and that is combined with visual stimulation, then more norepinephrine is released where visual information is processed," Dr. Paukert said. "Our second finding, also important, is that astrocytes can reliably detect the rate of norepinephrine release."
Shawn R. Gray, Liang Ye, Jing Yong Ye, Martin Paukert. Noradrenergic terminal short-term potentiation enables modality-selective integration of sensory input and vigilance state, Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abk1378)