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J Neurosci Res. 2002 Nov 15;70(4):611-21.

Single cell activity patterns of pedunculopontine tegmentum neurons across the sleep-wake cycle in the freely moving rats.

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Sleep Research Laboratory, Program in Behavioral Neuroscience and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


Microinjections of the excitatory amino acid, L-glutamate into the cholinergic cell compartment of the pedunculopontine tegmentum (PPT) of the rat induces both wakefulness and/or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep depending on the glutamate dosage. However, no studies have systematically recorded the electrical activity of these cells in the freely moving rat across the sleep-wake cycle. In this study, we have recorded the spontaneous activity patterns of single PPT cells (n = 70) in the freely moving rat across the sleep-wake cycle. PPT neurons were classified into three groups based on patterns in their spontaneous activity. The first group of cells (12.86%) was more active during REM sleep than they were during wakefulness or slow-wave sleep (SWS). The second group of cells (60.0%) was more active during REM and wakefulness than during SWS. The firing rate of the third group of cells (27.14%) did not change as a function of behavioral state. This study also demonstrated that the level of activity within the cholinergic cell compartment of the PPT during SWS drops to 7.4% of that observed during wakefulness and that during REM sleep it changes to 65.5% of wakefulness levels. These findings indicate that in the freely moving rat, the discharging of PPT neurons correlates with wakefulness and REM sleep. Additionally, these neurons may be an integral part of the brainstem wakefulness and REM sleep-generating mechanisms in the rat.

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