Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Ronald A. CohenEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1266


Cortical activation; Cortical arousal; Delirium; Wakefulness


The psychological and physiological state of wakefulness, excitement, and/or activation enables readiness for action, increased sexual desire, and readiness. From a neuropsychological perspective, arousal refers to the tonic state of cortical activity elicited by the subcortical reticular formation that results in increased wakefulness, alertness, muscle tone, and autonomic response (e.g., heart rate and respiration). Mobilization of arousal including autonomic resources is necessary for the performance of both volitional and non-volitional tasks. Further, arousal varies across sleep stages, emotional states, and cognitive tasks. It is a broad construct encompassing many physiological processes and meaning requires context.

Historical Background

The concept of arousal played a key role in many of the earliest psychological theories. Physiologists of the nineteenth century, such as Brücke, focused on the...

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References and Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, College of Public Health and Health ProfessionsUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory, McKnight Brain InstituteUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA