The peculiar features of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), are challenging the current biological knowledge. Early in Feb, 2020, we suggested that SARS-CoV-2 may possess neuroinvasive potential similar to that of many other coronaviruses. Since then, a variety of neurological manifestations have been associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, which was supported in some patients with neuroimaging and/or cerebrospinal fluid tests. To date, at least 27 autopsy studies on the brains of COVID-19 patients can be retrieved through PubMed/MEDLINE, among which neuropathological alterations were observed in the brainstem in 78 of 134 examined patients, and SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid and viral proteins were detected in the brainstem in 16/49 (32.7%) and 18/71 (25.3%) cases, respectively. To shed some light on the peculiar respiratory manifestations of COVID-19 patients, this review assessed the existing evidence about the neurogenic mechanism underlying the respiratory failure induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection. Acknowledging the neurological involvement has important guiding significance for the prevention, treatment, and prognosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection.