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Reticular activating system

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reticular activating system

(Science: physiology) A physiological term denoting that part of the brainstem reticular formation that plays a central role in the organism's bodily and behavorial alertness.

It extends as a diffusely organised neural apparatus through the central region of the brainstem into the subthalamus and the intralaminar nuclei of the thalamus; by its ascending connections it affects the function of the cerebral cortex in the sense of behavioural responsiveness; its descending (reticulospinal) connections transmit its activating influence upon bodily posture and reflex mechanisms (e.g., muscle tonus), in part by way of the gamma motor neurons.

See: reticular formation.

Synonym: non-specific system.