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Functions of The Reticular Activating System

Have you ever noticed when you buy a new vehicle, you see that vehicle everywhere on the road?  This is because of a part of your brain called your reticular activating system.  It’s located above your spinal cord and it’s about two inches long. It’s about the width of a pencil. As it turns out, you can leverage it to improve focus, energy, and stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system. In an article from The Movement Paradigm,  there are 3 Functions of The Reticular Activating System. The RAS is responsible for our wakefulness, our ability to focus, our fight-flight response, and how we ultimately perceive everything. It controls what we perceive in our consciousness. It also acts as a gatekeeper.

Functions of The Reticular Activating System


The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is an assortment of nerves within your brainstem. Basically, it is designed to help you with consciousness, motivation and inspiration, and signals to your brain anything relating to arousal. It controls all incoming information (which scientists at one point estimated includes up to 1.3 million bits of information per second!)  The RAS (for short), determines the world you see from incoming information, and helps you behave in a way that is the appropriate response to that incoming stimulus.

You see, with the millions of bits of information coming in, you can only consciously be aware of so much.


We’ve all heard about the law of attraction and how what we see, is ultimately, what we experience.

Your Reticular Activating System enables the Law of Attraction. Your Reticular Activating System enables the Law of Attraction. You are what you believe yourself to be. If you believe yourself to be a competent leader who trusts in your team, you will be able to find many examples that justify that thought.  If you believe your team is incompetent and unable to be trusted, you see examples of incompetence and untrustworthiness more frequently.

For example, think of a time when you were really upset with someone. This can be a colleague, family member, boss, etc. Go back into your mind for a memory of when you were absolutely disgusted by something they did or said. As you go back into your mind, you’ll start to notice all of the other things this individual has done previously that frustrated you.  Once you get started with your reticular activating system, begin to notice other patterns that follow.

Alternatively, if you think of a person you love right now. Try to remember a tender moment with them and your brain will be flooded with several memories.  You are beginning to release oxytocin, dopamine, and other “feel good” hormones in your brain.  In addition, you may even notice right now you want to contact them.


The RAS seeks data that validates your beliefs.  This means that everything in your life, at one point came from a reflection of how you were feeling.

In other words, when you feel unworthy or experience imposter syndrome, your brain is going to create evidence that those feelings are valid.  The exciting part of this research is that you can immediately put the RAS to work for you to increase focus, productivity, and energy.

The fastest way to change your environment, is to make a list of all the good there is in your world and the gratitude you have for it. Write out a list of 50 accomplishments when you finish reading this article. Notice how you feel. Recognize how you feel after reflection.

‘Whatever good things we build end up building us.’  –  Jim Rohn

Functions of The Reticular Activating System

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