Feindel Virtual Brain and Mind Lecture Series: The locus coeruleus-noradrenaline system in Parkinson's disease


Dr. Claire O'Callaghan presents, "The locus coeruleus-noradrenaline system in Parkinson's disease,".

Registration via Eventbrite.

Livestreaming via Vimeo

Speaker: Claire O'Callaghan, Ph.D.

Research Fellow, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Australia

Abstract: The locus coeruleus–noradrenaline system plays an extensive role in cognition and behaviour. Understanding how this system is impacted by disease has important implications for treatment, and can offer insights into how the system functions in the healthy brain. My talk will focus on the locus coeruleus–noradrenaline system in Parkinson’s disease – in particular, the role it plays in impulsivity and reinforcement learning. Using a combined approach, we characterised the locus coeruleus using 7T MRI and probed the system in a pharmacological study with the noradrenergic reuptake inhibitor atomoxetine. Following on from extensive preclinical work linking stop-signal inhibition to the noradrenergic system, we show that stop-signal task performance is modulated by atomoxetine and dependent on locus coeruleus integrity. We also use this framework to further confirm a role for noradrenaline in navigating uncertainty during reinforcement learning, by showing improved learning behaviour under atomoxetine via computational modelling and pupillometry. Together, these findings advance ideas around noradrenergic therapy in Parkinson’s disease and hopefully provide some new insights into how the locus coeruleus–noradrenaline system orchestrates human behaviour.

Bio: Claire is a research fellow at the University of Sydney. She works across cognitive and clinical neuroscience, trying to understand cognitive functions in the healthy brain and how they are affected in neurodegenerative conditions.

She trained as a clinical neuropsychologist then completed her PhD in Sydney in 2015, followed by a postdoc at the University of Cambridge (2015-2019), before returning to Sydney in 2019.

The Feindel Virtual Brain and Mind (VBM) Seminar Series will advance the vision of Dr. William Feindel (1918–2014), Former Director of the Neuro (1972–1984), to constantly bridge the clinical and research realms. The talks will highlight the latest advances and discoveries in neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroimaging.

Speakers will include scientists from across The Neuro, as well as colleagues and collaborators locally and from around the world. The series is intended to provide a virtual forum for scientists and trainees to continue to foster interdisciplinary exchanges on the mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of brain and cognitive disorders.


Contact Information

Sasha Kelly
Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital
sasha.kelly [at] mcgill.ca

The Neuro logo McGill logoMcGill University Health Centre logoKillam Laureates


The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.




Back to top