Brain experts agree that although our knowledge of the brain has changed drastically in recent years, there is more to learn.
Here are our top fascinating brain facts of the month:
- How does the brain keep us awake? Wakefulness is maintained by the brain’s arousal systems, each regulating different aspects of the awake state. Many arousal systems are in the upper brainstem, where neurons connecting with the forebrain use the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and glutamate to keep us awake.
- Several complex brain systems and endocrine (hormone) systems contribute to sexual arousal and behaviors, but the brain regions, neurotransmitters, and body systems are similar to those involved in general arousal. The distinguishing factor is that sexual arousal also involves hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, which then activate neurons that release the same neurotransmitters that are released during general arousal.
- If you are paying attention right now, there should be detectable changes in your heart rate, breathing, and blood flow. If that sounds familiar, it’s because those same physiological changes occur during arousal, which is necessary for being alert and paying attention.
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Read more from BrainFacts: A Primer on the Brain and Nervous System.