Expert Commentary

Reward-Seeking Behavior in Human Narcolepsy

Dr. Rolf Fronczek

Since the discovery of the hypocretin/orexin system approximately 15 years ago, much has been learned about its role in the regulation of sleep and wake. Studies demonstrate that hypocretin/orexin promotes wakefulness, whereas the loss of the neurotransmitter signaling causes narcolepsy. Although the role of the hypocretin/orexin system is best characterized as regards sleep and wakefulness, other studies have investigated its role in other processes including Alzheimer’s disease and appetite. Dr Fronczek and colleagues have begun to characterize a role for the hypocretin/orexin system in the regulation of reward processing and addiction. In particular, the investigators found differential risk-taking behaviors and psychiatric symptoms between narcoleptics with and without cataplexy. In this video commentary, Dr Fronczek discusses recent findings that he and his colleagues uncovered.


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