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Analysis of Article Narcolepsy by Jerome M. Siegel Essay

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Analysis of Article Narcolepsy by Jerome M. Siegel

In his article “Narcolepsy,” Jerome M. Siegel discusses the disease and its possible causes. To begin with, Siegel defines the symptoms and problems associated with the disease. Moreover, he states what exactly the disease is, his research into its causes and effects on the nervous system, and the possibility that the narcolepsy may be an autoimmune disease. The symptoms of narcolepsy include cataplexy, persistent daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, and hypnagogic hallucinations. Cataplexy is “a loss of skeletal muscle tone without loss of consciousness” (77). These cataplectic attacks often occur at emotional times. Such events could be laughter, sexual intercourse, physical
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Research into narcoleptic dogs has shown that there is a genetic link in dogs, however, it has also shown that cataplexy occurred during vigorous play or when excited. Moreover, it was found that when the medial medulla is stimulated with an electrode muscle tone disappears. This effect appears to occur to prevent muscle movement during REM sleep and some muscle tone regulation while awake. Siegel found that during a cataplectic episode in the narcoleptic dogs this region of the brain became active. Additionally, it was found that in normal individuals this region of the brain is only highly active during REM sleep. A research in Siegel’s laboratory, Elizabeth Schenkel, demonstrated that normal animals with damaged medial medullas moved during REM sleep. Furthermore, other researchers showed that animals with damage higher on the brain stem, which connected to the medulla “raised their heads, walked and appeared to attack imaginary adversaries during REM sleep” (78). Another area in the brain has been targeted in playing a role in narcolepsy. This area is called the locus coeruleus. This region releases norepinephrine, which is involved in “fight or flight” reactions. It has been found that in normal individuals the locus coeruleus is active while awake and inactive during REM sleep. However, narcoleptics have inactive locus coeruleus’s before and during cataplexy, just like REM
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