Evidence Based

Brainstem, Tuberomammillary Nucleus & Locus Coeruleus

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:

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  • Sensations of pain, temperature, and itch
  • Maintaining consciousness
  • Regulating the sleep cycle
  • Regulating heart rate, breathing, sleeping, and eating.

Symptoms of Brainstem problems

  • Visual disturbances
  • Pupil abnormalities
  • Changes in sensation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hearing problems
  • Vertigo
  • Swallowing
  • Speech difficulty
  • Voice change
  • Coordination problems
  • Altered heart rate
  • Altered blood pressure
  • Altered sleeping cycle
  • Brain fog

Tuberomammillary nucleus (limbic system)

Symptoms of Tuberomammillary problems

  • Fatigue
  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Impaired sleep
  • Weight problems

About The Tuberomammillary System

The tuberomammillary nucleus is located within the hypothalamus. It consists of histamine-releasing neurons and is involved with the control of:

  • Wakefulness
  • Cognitive function
  • Memory
  • Sleep
  • Weight

Locus Coeruleus

Function & Location

Some medications including norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are believed to work through this area.

Research continues to reveal that norepinephrine is a critical regulator of numerous activities – from stress response to the formation of memory to attention and arousal.

The locus coeruleus is responsible for mediating many of the sympathetic effects during stress.

The most important functions influenced by this system are:

  • Wakefulness
  • Sleep-wake cycle
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Motivation
  • Behavioral flexibility
  • Behavioral control
  • Stress (psychological)
  • Emotions
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Posture and balance

Activation by Stress

It is activated by stress and will respond by increasing norepinephrine secretion, which in turn will:

  • Alter cognitive function (through the prefrontal cortex)
  • Increase motivation (through nucleus accumbens)
  • Activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Increase the sympathetic (fight or flight)/inhibit parasympathetic (rest and digest) system (through the brainstem).

The released norepinephrine can act on α2 receptors to increase working memory, while an excess of norepinephrine may decrease working memory by binding to the lower-affinity α1 receptors.

Activation of the locus coeruleus via the amygdala is a major factor in most stress-induced disorders, especially PTSD. Combat-related PTSD to be associated with fewer neurons in the locus coeruleus (LC).

The locus coeruleus is almost completely inactivated in REM sleep.

Alzheimer’s Disease

There is up to 80% loss of locus coeruleus neurons in Alzheimer’s disease.

The norepinephrine from locus coeruleus cells provides an anti-inflammatory environment around the neurons, glial cells, and blood vessels in the neocortex and hippocampus. It also suppresses amyloid beta production.

This suggests that degeneration of the locus coeruleus might be responsible for increased amyloid beta deposition in Alzheimer’s brains.


  • Norepinephrine

Symptoms of Locus Coeruleus problems

About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen won the genetic lottery of bad genes. As a kid, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, and other issues that were poorly understood in both conventional and alternative medicine.Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a journey of self-experimentation and self-learning to improve his health--something that has since become known as “biohacking”. With thousands of experiments and pubmed articles under his belt, Joe founded SelfHacked, the resource that was missing when he needed it. SelfHacked now gets millions of monthly readers.Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, author and speaker. He is the CEO of SelfHacked, SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer.His mission is to help people gain access to the most up-to-date, unbiased, and science-based ways to optimize their health.
Joe has been studying health sciences for 17 years and has read over 30,000 PubMed articles. He's given consultations to over 1000 people who have sought his health advice. After completing the pre-med requirements at university, he founded SelfHacked because he wanted to make a big impact in improving global health. He's written hundreds of science posts, multiple books on improving health, and speaks at various health conferences. He's keen on building a brain-trust of top scientists who will improve the level of accuracy of health content on the web. He's also founded SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer, popular genetic and lab software tools to improve health.

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