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Science 334 (6059): 1151-1153

Copyright © 2011 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Stress-Related Noradrenergic Activity Prompts Large-Scale Neural Network Reconfiguration

Erno J. Hermans,1,2,3,* Hein J. F. van Marle,1,4,{dagger} Lindsey Ossewaarde,5,{dagger} Marloes J. A. G. Henckens,5,6,{dagger} Shaozheng Qin,1,7,{dagger} Marlieke T. R. van Kesteren,1,8,{dagger} Vincent C. Schoots,1,9,{dagger} Helena Cousijn,5,10,{dagger} Mark Rijpkema,5 Robert Oostenveld,5 Guillén Fernández1,2

Abstract: Acute stress shifts the brain into a state that fosters rapid defense mechanisms. Stress-related neuromodulators are thought to trigger this change by altering properties of large-scale neural populations throughout the brain. We investigated this brain-state shift in humans. During exposure to a fear-related acute stressor, responsiveness and interconnectivity within a network including cortical (frontoinsular, dorsal anterior cingulate, inferotemporal, and temporoparietal) and subcortical (amygdala, thalamus, hypothalamus, and midbrain) regions increased as a function of stress response magnitudes. β-adrenergic receptor blockade, but not cortisol synthesis inhibition, diminished this increase. Thus, our findings reveal that noradrenergic activation during acute stress results in prolonged coupling within a distributed network that integrates information exchange between regions involved in autonomic-neuroendocrine control and vigilant attentional reorienting.

1 Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, 6500 HB, Nijmegen, Netherlands.
2 Department for Cognitive Neuroscience, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, 6500 HB, Nijmegen, Netherlands.
3 Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA.
4 Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, 1100 DD, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
5 Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6525 EN, Nijmegen, Netherlands.
6 Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Centre Utrecht, 3584 CG, Utrecht, Netherlands.
7 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94304, Stanford, USA.
8 Department of Anatomy, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, 6500 HB, Nijmegen, Netherlands.
9 Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 3000 DR, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
10 Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford University, OX3 7JX, Oxford, UK.

{dagger} These authors contributed equally to this work.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: erno.hermans{at}

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