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RDoC Classification

Domain: Arousal and Regulatory Systems


Sleep and wakefulness are endogenous, recurring, behavioral states that reflect coordinated changes in the dynamic functional organization of the brain and that optimize physiology, behavior, and health. Homeostatic and circadian processes regulate the propensity for wakefulness and sleep. Sleep:

  1. Is reversible, typically characterized by postural recumbence, behavioral quiescence, and reduced responsiveness;
  2. Has a complex architecture with predictable cycling of NREM/REM states or their developmental equivalents. NREM and REM sleep have distinct neural substrates (circuitry, transmitters, modulators) and EEG oscillatory properties
  3. Intensity and duration is affected by homeostatic regulation;
  4. Is affected by experiences during wakefulness;
  5. Is evident at cellular, circuit, and system levels;
  6. Has restorative and transformative effects that optimize neurobehavioral functions during wakefulness.




Anterior hypothalamus and basal forebrainBrainstem (e.g., LC, Raphe, LDT/PPT, VTA)Lateral and perifornical hypothalamusPosterior hypothalamus (TMN)Thalamus (median thalamic nuclei, reticular nucleus)



NREM (Forebrain)

Basal forebrain and anterior hypothalamus projections to arousal promoting cell groupsThalamocortical

REM (Brainstem)

Mesopontine nuclei


Arousal and Circadian Rhythms circuits also subserve wakefulness.


Brain metabolic activityCapacity for wakefulness under low stimulationEEG sleep spindlesEEG slow wavesEEG theta rhythmsEMGEOGNREM sleep and REM sleepPhysiologic measures of sleepiness, homeostatic sleep drive during wakingSex-specific sleep physiologysleep hormonessleep latencyTemporal and topographic organization of homeostatic sleep drive during sleepTemporal and topographic organization of sleep dynamicswakefulness


Co-sleepingIntermediate/ admixed sleep-wake statesMotor behaviors during sleepRest-activity patternsSensory arousal thresholdSex-specific sleep behaviorsSleepSleep deprivation and satiationSleep inertiaSleep timing and variabilitySleep-dependent neurobehavioral functionsWakefulness


AlertnessDream reportsFatigueInsomnia Severity IndexSleep quality, restoration, quantitySleep timingSleep-modulated symptomssleepinessSpecific sleep symptoms


Finger Tapping Motor Sequence TaskLatency to persistent sleepMultiple sleep latency testingNon-REM Sleep EEG slow wave activitySleep SpindlesTotal sleep timeWake time after sleep onset