Has The “Reptilian Brain” Gone Haywire In ME/CFS ? Back To The Brainstem We Go.

Brain anatomy  - cross section

By Cort Johnson in Health Rising.


The most primitive part of the brain, the brainstem – a  part of “the reptilian brain” – doesn’t get much respect in medical research. VanElzakker pointed out that most brain scan studies focus on the upper, more highly developed parts of the brain.  Because brain imaging techniques can’t effectively capture the upper and lower parts of the brain, these studies often miss the brainstem.

The brainstem may be “primitive” in the sense that it was one of the earliest parts of the brain to develop, but that doesn’t mean simple, and it certainly doesn’t mean unimportant. Just the opposite, in fact. In this case, primitive means fundamentally important.

Located at the bottom of the brain where it meets the spinal cord, the brainstem is the first recipient of all the sensory and “motor” signals from the spinal cord. It regulates very basic functions – like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, alertness, sleep – the fundamental stuff you really don’t want to go wrong.


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