Chapter 42 Acetylcholine and acetylcholine receptor subtypes in REM sleep generation
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Publisher SummaryThis chapter discusses the acetylcholine and acetylcholine receptor subtypes in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep generation. REM sleep is characterized by the simultaneous presence of tonic components, such as cortical desynchronization, atonia of antigravitory muscles, hippocampal theta rhythm, and phasic components, such as REM and ponto-geniculo occipital spikes. Cholinergic stimulation of the brainstem is capable of eliciting a state that is behaviorally and polygraphically indistinguishable from naturally occurring REM sleep, and specific sites within the brainstem are capable of inducing a selective increase of one of the components as well. The cholinergic stimulation of a number of brain regions can increase either slow-wave sleep or REM sleep. A cholinergic hypnogenic pathway is presented, including the hypothalamus, amygdala, hippocampus, the medial anterior preoptic area, temporal and cingulate cortex, and some areas of the brainstem where the medial pontine reticular formation is relevant. REM sleep is induced by the administration of a solution of acetylcholine bromide in the caudal mesencephalon and in the medulla of freely moving cats. The main pharmacological tool in the analysis of cholinergic control of REM sleep is carbachol, a mixed cholinergic receptor agonist.

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