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Med Hypotheses. 2005;64(1):28-32.

Serotonergic hypothesis of sleepwalking.

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Department of Animal Behavior, Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Polish Academy of Sciences, Jastrzebiec, 05-552 Wolka Kosowska, Poland.


Despite widespread prevalence of sleepwalking, its etiology and pathophysiology are not well understood. However, there is some evidence that sleepwalking can be precipitated by sleep-disordered breathing. A hypothesis is proposed that serotonergic system may be a link between sleep-disordered breathing and sleepwalking. Serotonergic neurons meet basic requirements for such a role because they are activated by hypercapnia, provide a tonic excitatory drive that gates afferent inputs to motoneurons, and the activity of serotonergic neurons can be dissociated from the level of arousal. This paper discusses also drug-induced somnambulism and co-occurrence of sleepwalking and other disorders such as migraine and febrile illness.

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