Neurophysiology of sleep and wakefulness

Respiratory Care Clinics of North America
Cameron D Harris


Wakefulness, NREM sleep, and REM sleep are three distinct states of existence. Each state has characteristic behavioral and physiologic patterns,and each has specific neurophysiologic mechanisms associated with its generation and control. Structures in the brainstem use various neurotransmitters to influence higher brain structures in the midbrain and cortex. The ARAS provides cholinergic, noradrenergic, and glutaminergic stimulation to the thalamus, hypothalamus, and basal forebrain resulting in cholinergic and glutaminergic excitation of the cortex. An active cortex that exhibits a characteristic pattern of desynchronized EEG manifests wakefulness. Various factors affect the need and timing of sleep onset. These factors influence the nucleus tractus solitarius, causing its noradrenergic projections to midbrain and forebrain structures to inhibit activity in the ARAS, resulting inactivation of inhibitory GABAergic thalamocortical projections to the cor-tex. During a state of decreased activation, the cortex exhibits a pattern of synchronized EEG. Transition between NREM sleep and REM sleep is controlled by noradrenergic neurons in the loci coeruleus and serotoninergic neurons in the raphe called REM-off cells and cholinergic n...Continue Reading


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Related Concepts

Nucleus Solitarius
Cortex Bone Disorders
Adrenal Cortex Diseases
Entire Brainstem
Projections and Predictions
Neurophysiology - Biologic Function
Sleep, Slow-Wave
Complex (molecular entity)

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