Locus Coeruleus, Autism, and Noradrenaline


I’ve plugged the fact before that there’s a common anecdote about autistic children’s behavior being temporarily altered by fevers.

I ran across this interesting article on the brain region known as the “locus coeruleus” which apparently creates noradrenaline.

“The LC-NA system is the only brain system involved both in producing fever and controlling behavior,” says co-author Dominick P. Purpura, M.D., dean emeritus and distinguished professor of neuroscience at Einstein.

The locus coeruleus has widespread connections to brain regions that process sensory information. It secretes most of the brain’s noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in arousal mechanisms, such as the “fight or flight” response. It is also involved in a variety of complex behaviors, such as attentional focusing (the ability to concentrate attention on environmental cues relevant to the task in hand, or to switch attention from one task to another). Poor attentional focusing is a defining characteristic of autism. (via.)


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