Send to

Choose Destination
Neuroscience. 2002;112(2):355-65.

Cataplexy-related neurons in the amygdala of the narcoleptic dog.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry and Brain Research Institute, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 91020, USA.


The amygdala plays an important role in the interpretation of emotionally significant stimuli and has strong projections to brainstem regions regulating muscle tone and sleep. Cataplexy, a symptom of narcolepsy, is a loss of muscle tone usually triggered by sudden, strong emotions. Extracellular single-unit recordings were carried out in the amygdala of narcoleptic dogs to test the hypothesis that abnormal activity of a subpopulation of amygdala neurons is linked to cataplexy. Of the 218 cells recorded, 31 were sleep active, 78 were active in both waking and rapid-eye-movement sleep, 88 were maximally active during waking, and 21 were state independent. Two populations of cells showed a significant change in activity with cataplexy. A population of sleep active cells localized to central and basal nucleus increased discharges prior to and during cataplexy. A population of wake active cells localized to the cortical nucleus decreased activity prior to and during cataplexy. We hypothesize that these cell populations have a role in mediation or modulation of cataplexy through interactions with meso-pontine regions controlling atonia. The anticholinesterase physostigmine, at doses which increased cataplexy, did not alter the activity of the cataplexy-related cells or of other amygdala cells, suggesting that its effect on cataplexy is mediated 'downstream' of the amygdala. The alpha-1 blocker prazosin, at doses which increased cataplexy, increased discharge in a subgroup of the cataplexy active cells and in a number of other amygdala cells, indicating that prazosin may modulate cataplexy by its action on amygdala cells or their afferents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center