Disorders of the reticular activating system

Med Hypotheses. 1997 Nov;49(5):379-87. doi: 10.1016/s0306-9877(97)90083-9.


The organization of components of the reticular activating system and their role in sleep-wake mechanisms and arousal are described. A functional model is proposed based on known neuroanatomical and neurophysiological findings. The involvement of these elements of the reticular activating system in various neurological and psychiatric disorders is discussed. A series of hypotheses are advanced to account for the role of these nuclei in such diverse disorders as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, REM behavior disorder, Parkinson's disease and narcolepsy. This line of reasoning suggests that, when neurological or psychiatric disorders manifest symptoms related to arousal and sleep-wake control, disturbances of elements of the reticular activating system must be considered responsible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Narcolepsy / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Reticular Formation / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology