Introduction

Noradrenaline, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylethanolamine (Fig. 8.1), is released from terminals of noradrenergic neurons in the brain, from most postganglionic sympathetic neurons and from chromaffin cells in the adrenal medulla. Its role in the periphery (the so-called 'sympathoadrenal system') has been evident for nearly a century, but its function in the brain is much harder to define. This chapter will describe recent developments in our understanding of the neurochemistry and pharmacology of noradrenergic neurons and adrenoceptors as well as outlining theories to explain how changes in central noradrenergic transmission might influence behaviour.

Figure 8.1 The chemical structure of noradrenaline

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