Noradrenergic modulation of
cognitive flexibility in problem solving

by
Beversdorf DQ, Hughes JD,
Steinberg BA, Lewis LD, Heilman KM
Department of Neurology,
Ohio State University Medical Center,
Columbus 43210, USA.
Neuroreport 1999 Sep 9; 10(13):2763-7


ABSTRACT

Stress causes impaired performance on tests of creativity. Drugs that block beta-adrenergic receptors improve test performance in patients with test anxiety. Furthermore, catecholamine precursors (L-DOPA) reduce the flexibility of semantic networks. Our study investigated the effect of noradrenergic system modulation on cognitive flexibility in problem solving. Eighteen normal subjects undertook three problem solving tasks (number series, shape manipulation and anagrams) 45 min after propranolol, placebo and ephedrine. On the task that appeared to rely most heavily on cognitive flexibility (anagrams), subjects who were most able to solve these problems demonstrated significantly shorter solution times (logarithmic scores) after propranolol than after ephedrine. This suggested that the noradrenergic system exerts a modulatory effect on cognitive flexibility in problem solving.

Anxiety
Valerian
Buspirone
Zopliclone
Yohimbine
Noradrenaline
Beta-blockers
Benzodiazepines
Catecholamine depletion
Alpha2-adrenergic receptors
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