Chapter

Brainstem Networks

Carl L. Faingold

in Jasper's Basic Mechanisms of the Epilepsies

Fourth edition

Published on behalf of ©Jeffrey L. Noebels, Massimo Avoli, Michael A. Rogawski, Richard W. Olsen, and Antonio V. Delgado-Escueta

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199746545
Published online April 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199322817 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780199746545.003.0020

Series: Contemporary Neurology Series

Brainstem Networks

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Penfield and Jasper1 proposed that generalized seizures involve the brainstem reticular formation (BRF) and other brain sites that are extensively connected to most other brain regions as a centrencephalic system. Considerable subsequent research has confirmed a major role for the BRF in the neuronal networks that subserve generalized convulsive seizure generation. The BRF has been defined to include the core of the brainstem in the medulla, pons, and midbrain. The projections between brainstem nuclei, as well as those to and from the BRF, are massive, including all levels of the central nervous system (CNS) from spinal cord to cerebral cortex. Recent research on the anatomical and neurochemical diversity of nuclei within the BRF has been extensive, leading to a more complex view of the functions of the brainstem. However, these observations have not invalidated the original concept that the BRF has the potential to act as an extremely large network (reticulum) capable of “mass action” under certain circumstances, such as arousal or generalized convulsive seizure.2–4 Depression of BRF neurons was originally and is still implicated as a major mechanism of action for depressant and anesthetic drugs.2,5

Chapter.  8296 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology

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