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The Relationship between Ultradian Rhythm and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep


Most of the mammals have nerve networks that generate rhythmic activities in their central nervous system. These systems produce ultradian rhythms which change between a few minutes to a few hours, and can regulate subconsciously the automatic functions such as, walking, breathing, sleep, wakefulness, arousal, motivation, addiction, and memory consolidation. The networks contain pacemaker neurons with the intrinsic ability to generate rhythmic activity in the form of action potentials. The most known rhythmic activity-produced by pacemaker cells, in the tegmental area of the brainstem, are the pre-Botzinger cells of the respiratory system. Pre-Botzinger cells change their activity level due to norepinephrine which is adjusted by changes in environmental and behavioral conditions. Norepinephrine not only modulates the respiratory network, but is in fact one of the most prominent neuromodulators in the mammalian nervous system. The ultradian rhythm that affects all the bodily functions is claimed to be shifting due to cerebral dominance and the activation of the sympathetic or parasympathetic systems, and it continues with NONREM and REM phases of the sleep. It can be asserted that pontin-geniculo-occipital (PGO) waves in REM sleep can be triggered by increased Ca2+ conductivity of pontine tegmental neurons, during sympathetic activity of the brain, as seen in the dominance of right hemisphere. INTRODUCTION

Lamia Pinar, Isinsu Karaoglu and Ahmet Hulusi Yesil

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