Long since, REM-sleep is fascinating scientists, philosophers and artists. Now, Japanese scientists slightly revealed the veil and discovered the answer to the questions, which neurons are controlling the REM-sleep and the predominance of REM-sleep. Recently, the study was published in “Science”.
It was already assumed that the brainstem was playing a role in controlling REM-sleep. Now the scientists were able to find out that during an early embryonic development phase neuronal cells of the rhombic lip cells (situated in the distant brain area) are “moving” into the brainstem. The scientists followed the way of these transmitter Atoh1-releasing neurons in transgenic mice and influenced the release of this neurotransmitter. As soon as Atoh1 was released, REM-sleep was interrupted and non-REM-sleep enhanced.
In a further step they investigated the role of the REM-phase in general sleep physiology. They recorded brain waves of the mice during non-REM-sleep as well as during REM-sleep. Again, they influenced the duration of the REM- and consequently of the non-REM-sleep. Surprised, they noticed that the amplitude of slower delta-waves of the non-REM-sleep was smaller or bigger, depending on shorter or longer REM-sleep. For the first time, these findings demonstrate a predominant hierarchy in the brain, namely that non-REM-sleep is controlled by REM-sleep.
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