The orexin-producing neurons in the lateral hypothalamus play an essential role in promoting arousal and maintaining wakefulness. These neurons receive a broad variety of signals related to environmental, physiological and emotional stimuli; they project to almost every brain region involved in the regulation of wakefulness; and they fire most strongly during active wakefulness, high motor activation, and sustained attention. This review focuses on the specific neuronal pathways through which the orexin neurons promote wakefulness and maintain high level of arousal, and how recent studies using optogenetic and pharmacogenetic methods have demonstrated that the locus coeruleus, the tuberomammillary nucleus, and the basal forebrain are some of the key sites mediating the arousing actions of orexins. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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