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Conference Paper

Norepinephrine and neural interrupts

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Dayan, P., & Yu, A. (2006). Norepinephrine and neural interrupts. In Y. Weiss, B. Schölkopf, & J. Platt (Eds.), Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 18: Proceedings of the 2005 Conference (pp. 243-250). Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-9BEB-5
Experimental data indicate that norepinephrine is critically involved in aspects of vigilance and attention. Previously, we considered the function of this neuromodulatory system on a time scale of minutes and longer, and suggested that it signals global uncertainty arising from gross changes in environmental contingencies. However, norepinephrine is also known to be activated phasically by familiar stimuli in well-learned tasks. Here, we extend our uncertainty-based treatment of norepinephrine to this phasic mode, proposing that it is involved in the detection and reaction to state uncertainty within a task. This role of norepinephrine can be understood through the metaphor of neural interrupts.