In our view, the current experimental and clinical literature in neuropsychology and neurology is seriously losing sight of the importance of brainstem mechanisms in the mediation of higher mental functions. In an effort to offset this trend, an attempt has been made to restore some degree of luster and plausibility to Penfield’s centrencephalic theory. While the fundamental impetus for this restoration grew out of newly acquired data on the nonspecific neural mechanism (formerly termed the “general learning system”) in the laboratory rat, it was subsequently noted that recent clinical and pathological findings related especially to subcortical dementia converged on the same conclusion; namely, the basal ganglia and anatomically related nuclei constitute a brainstem mechanism that exercises a set of functions that seemingly intervenes in cognitively mediated behaviors. The precise set of functions that this brainstem ensemble is concerned with is, of course, problematic, but it could overlap with that attributed to the centrencephalic system by Penfield.
KeywordsVentral Tegmental Area Superior Colliculus Globus Pallidus Reticular Formation Medial Raphe
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