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Many neurophysiologists and some clinicians have become intrigued of late with that multisynaptic complex in the brain stem known as the reticular system. Long associated with neuroendocrine and reflex motor functions, it has come in the past few years to be recognized as a master control for the entire central nervous system. It monitors the brain's sensory input, including vision, and constitutes the core of a feedback control for the various parameters of neurologic responsiveness. Under physiologic conditions its activity is expressed in wakefulness and sleep, whereas under pathologic conditions its lack of activity is expressed in stupor and coma. In electronic terms it is the gain-setting bias between the sensor and the effector.
Yet one finds difficulty in obtaining a precise definition of the reticular system in anatomic terms. The literature is full of what it does but short on what it is. There is, however, general agreement that
C. DG. Reticular System. Arch Ophthalmol. 1965;74(5):593-594. doi:10.1001/archopht.1965.00970040595001