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Microinjections into the pedunculopontine tegmentum: effects of the GABAA antagonist, bicuculline, on sleep, PGO waves and behavior.

L. D. Sanford, W. K. Hunt, R. J. Ross, A. R. Morrison, A. I. Pack


Neurons in the peribrachial region (PB) at the pontine border are implicated in the generation of ponto-geniculo-occipital (PGO) waves, which appear spontaneously during rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and in association with alerting behaviors during waking, as well as in the regulation of REM itself. It has been hypothesized that PGO-related bursting in a subpopulation of these neurons results from low threshold spikes triggered by phasic hyperpolarizations or by excitatory inputs reaching a steadily hyperpolarized neuron. The hyperpolarization necessary for triggering the low threshold spikes may come from local GABA neurons or from GABAergic input into PB. To test the hypothesis that antagonizing GABA would alter PGO wave generation and/or behavioral state, we microinfused, in cats, the GABAA antagonist, bicuculline, locally into PB and monitored behavior, behavioral state and PGO waves recorded in the lateral geniculate bodies. Bicuculline produced no significant alteration in PGO wave activity. In 3 cats, bicuculline produced behaviors ranging from spontaneous orienting and startle (4 cats) to flight behaviors (2 cats) and aggressiveness (2 cats), an effect probably due to diffusion into the central gray region. Thus, the results do not support a GABAA-ergic role in PB in the generation of PGO waves.

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