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Department of Psychology

Dr Rebecca Lawson leads the study on how the brain chemical noradrenaline can help us adapt. The results are published in the article "The computational, pharmacological, and physiological determinants of sensory learning under uncertainty", in the latest issue of "Current Biology".

“Adapting to uncertain situations helps us to survive. When something unexpected happens, we have to decide whether it’s a one-off and ignore it, or whether it’s going to keep happening – in which case we might benefit by doing things differently,” said Dr Rebecca Lawson

“In the face of uncertainty, people taking the anti-anxiety drug Propranolol showed an increased reliance on past experience to inform their behaviour – they were less influenced by changes in their environment that contradicted that experience,” said Lawson.

The University of Cambridge research press published more details of the experiment and results from the research, "The future’s uncertain – but noradrenaline can help us adapt" - A brain chemical called noradrenaline is responsible for our responses to uncertain situations - helping us to learn quickly and adapt our behaviour, a new study has found. 



Lawson, R.P. et al: ‘The computational, pharmacological, and physiological determinants of sensory learning under uncertainty.’ Current Biology, November 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.10.043


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