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A neural system with widespread facilitory and inhibitory control of both motor and sensory functions was suggested by several research workers around 1900, but it is only within the last 15 years that such a system has been investigated. This system, with its net-like (reticulum) structure, is most commonly referred to as the reticular formation. However, it has also been called the nonspecific reticular system, the mesencephalic or thalamic diffuse reticular system, and the reticular activation system (see p 773 in this issue of The Journal). That some semantic confusion exists stems from several sources, primarily (1) the problem of defining a neural "system" in terms of both structure and function, and (2) the difficulty in being anatomically precise in defining the reticular system. However, the designation, reticular activation—or activating—system is particularly appropriate because this system is intimately related to behavioral arousal and maintenance of an alert attitude. In structure,
THE RETICULAR FORMATION. JAMA. 1963;186(8):794–795. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03710080066018
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