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PhD defence

Investigating the human locus coeruleus-norepinephrine system in vivo: Discussions on the anatomy, involvement in cognition and clinical applications

Thursday 10 September 2020
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


The locus coeruleus, a small brainstem nucleus, is the main source of the chemical norepineprine in the brain and is involved in a number of cognitive functions as well as several neurological and psychiatric disorders. In this dissertation we study the human LC-NE system, the anatomy of this tiny brainstem nucleus and the involvement of the LC-NE system in stress, arousal, cognitive flexibility and physiology (hormones & pupil responses).

To date, the LC-NE system has been studied in animals or ex vivo (dead donors). This dissertation is among the first ones to study and visualize the LC-NE system in humans in vivo (alive volunteers) and to approach the human cognition and the study of the LC-NE system in a holistic manner: from central neuromodulators to hormones that are secreted in the body, from anatomy to physiology and cognition. To this end, all chapters were written by taking into consideration theoretical knowledge about the LC-NE system with regard to brain anatomy, cognitive functions, neuromodulation, physiological responses, and clinical applications. Chapters 2 and 3 deal mainly with the anatomy of the LC, while Chapters 4, 5 and 6 concentrate on cognition and human physiology. Additionally Chapters 5 and 6 take also a clinical approach.


  • Prof. S.T. Nieuwenhuis
  • Prof. B.U. Forstmann (UvA)

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

A scientific journey in simple words: Lay Summary

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