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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2007;31(5):775-824. Epub 2007 Mar 12.

Neurobiological mechanisms for the regulation of mammalian sleep-wake behavior: reinterpretation of historical evidence and inclusion of contemporary cellular and molecular evidence.

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Sleep and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


At its most basic level, the function of mammalian sleep can be described as a restorative process of the brain and body; recently, however, progressive research has revealed a host of vital functions to which sleep is essential. Although many excellent reviews on sleep behavior have been published, none have incorporated contemporary studies examining the molecular mechanisms that govern the various stages of sleep. Utilizing a holistic approach, this review is focused on the basic mechanisms involved in the transition from wakefulness, initiation of sleep and the subsequent generation of slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Additionally, using recent molecular studies and experimental evidence that provides a direct link to sleep as a behavior, we have developed a new model, the cellular-molecular-network model, explaining the mechanisms responsible for regulating REM sleep. By analyzing the fundamental neurobiological mechanisms responsible for the generation and maintenance of sleep-wake behavior in mammals, we intend to provide a broader understanding of our present knowledge in the field of sleep research.

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