Abstract and Keywords
Pharmacological influences on cognition and behaviour are often accompanied by effects on different aspects of attention. The actions of many psychoactive drugs (often used in the treatment of psychiatric disorders) depend on effects exerted on the classical chemical modulatory neurotransmitter systems including acetylcholine, and the monoamines, dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin (or 5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT). These chemical systems originate in the reticular core of the brain and modulate attention by actions on forebrain structures including the thalamus, striatum, and the neocortex (especially the prefrontal cortex). Current research is attempting to dissect separable functions of these chemical neurotransmitters in mediating attention in relation to states of arousal and stress in comparable test paradigms in experimental animals and humans. New directions in research in this area are also identified, including the functions of the novel neurotransmitter orexin, and the role of GABA and glutamate in gamma oscillations and the network properties of the neocortex.
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