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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: September 2011

18 - Modulation of REM sleep by non-REM sleep and waking areas in the brain

from Section III - Neuronal regulation



The brain-stem cholinergic neurons, having higher activity during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, located in several isolated nuclei are known as REM-on neurons. In contrast, the monoaminergic neurons in the brain stem and in the forebrain areas exhibit higher activity during wakefulness, almost completely cease their firing during REM sleep and have been termed as REM-off neurons. The norepinephrin (NE)-ergic neurons located in the locus coeruleus (LC) could be the negative REM sleep-executive neurons and their cessation during REM sleep seems to be obligatory for its occurrence. Our findings that the wakefulness-promoting neurons are inhibitory to REM-on neurons and excitatory to the REM-off neurons led us to suggest that the wakefulness-related neurons do not allow REM sleep to occur and cessation of REM-off neurons is a necessity for the generation of REM sleep. The caudal brain-stem reticular formation (CRF), which induces cortical synchronization, facilitates the activity of REM-on neurons. However, the hypothalamic non-REM sleep-related neurons do not seem to have significant effect on the spontaneous activity of the REM-on neurons, although they may be indirectly modulating REM sleep. Taken together these findings suggest that normally waking neurons do not allow REM sleep to appear; at a certain depth of non-REM sleep the CRF facilitates the onset of REM sleep and re-activation of the wake-active neurons in the brain stem is requisite for its termination.

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