Arousal is a physiological and behavioral response to external or internal events (threat, pain, reward, etc.). The arousal response can be divided into three categories based on the duration of response: short-term alerting, long-term vigilance, and longer term arousal. Each category represents an interplay of mechanisms in the peripheral and central nervous systems. Arousal is a result of the release ofmodulatory neurotransmitters that control target structures (e.g., brain and internal organs) that contain a large variety of receptors. Although all the arousal neurotransmit-ters can induce EEG arousal, they play different roles in behavioral arousal. The noradrenergic system mediates alertness to sensory events and regulates the vigilant state of the organism. The cholinergic system increases behavioral and cognitive arousal, thereby facilitating attention and the encoding of information. The dopaminergic system facilitates the execution of appropriate behavioral responses to external and internal events. The serotonergic system mediates motivational behaviors such as food consumption and sexual behavior, maintains adequate activation of mood, and regulates REM sleep. Histamine's function is less clear but, like acetylcholine, it regulates cortical and subcortical excitability.

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