Chapter

The Behavioral State System

Larry W. Swanson

in Brain Architecture

Second edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195378580
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199965120 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780195378580.003.1091
The Behavioral State System

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The sleep-wake cycle is the primary organizer of behavior in all but the simplest animals, and there are well-defined stages of sleep and different levels of arousal during wakefulness. The vertebrate brain contains an endogenously active master clock with a period of about 24 hours that is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus. The rhythmical output of this nucleus acts to synchronize many other rhythmically active physiological functions in the nervous system and in the body as a whole, and also acts to synchronize this activity with the day-night cycle and thus the normal sleep-wake cycle. One fascinating transformation of the suprachiasmatic circadian rhythm is to the period of the reproductive cycle, which may be lunar (human females), about 4 days (rats), or seasonal (sheep). Changes in arousal level during wakefulness are mediated by components of the behavioral state system that have diffusely organized axonal outputs and use a variety of interesting neurotransmitters like histamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine.

Chapter.  5228 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Development of the Nervous System

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