Central Representation of Arousal

  • Peter R. Laming


There are two types of mechanism by which the brain modulates its own responsiveness, those of arousal and attention. Comparative studies suggest that in fish and amphibia the nondirectional arousal component of the orientation reaction (OR) predominates over the directed attention component, the latter of which is more advanced in mammals. Fish and amphibia are therefore useful subjects for the study of arousal. Associated with behavioral arousal in these animals is an increase in amplitude and apparent synchrony of high frequency waveforms in the electroencephalogram (EEG). A model is presented of how such waveforms may sensitize neurons and thus increase responsiveness to subsequent stimuli. Also associated with neuronal responses to sensory experience are sustained potential shifts (SPSs) of probably glial origin. These SPSs may represent a change in the environment of neurons deeper in the sensory processing pathway which would increase the probability of these neurons responding to activation of that pathway. Hyperactivity of the brain, associated with seizures is also correlated with high levels of measures of arousal and clinically with a gliosis. Fundamental studies on the neuronal sensitization which occurs during arousal may also reveal the causes of neuronal hyperactivity in clinical disorders like epilepsy.


Glial Cell Optic Tectum Orientation Reaction Bufo Bufo Cerebellar Stimulation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter R. Laming
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyQueen’s University of BelfastBelfastNorthern Ireland

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