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How the brain paralyzes you while you sleep




How the brain paralyzes you while you sleep

How the brain paralyzes you while you sleep.Credit: University of Tsukuba

We laugh when we see Homer Simpson fall asleep while driving, in church, and even while operating the Springfield reactor. But in reality, narcolepsy, cataplexy, and REM sleep behavior disorder are all serious sleep-related illnesses. Researchers led by Professor Takeshi Sakurai of the University of Tsukuba have discovered neurons that connect all three disorders in the brain and may be therapeutic targets.

REM sleep correlates with dreams. The sleeping person’s eyes move back and forth, but the body remains stationary. This paralysis of the muscles while dreaming is called REM Atony and is flawed in people with REM sleep behavior disorder. Instead of resting during REM sleep, muscles move and people with REM sleep behavior disorder may stand up and jump, scream, or punch.Sakurai and his team Usually in the brain that interferes with this type of behavior during REM sleep.

The team used mice to identify specific groups of neurons as promising candidates. These cells are located in a region of the brain called the ventral medial medulla oblongata and receive input from another region called the ventral tegmental nucleus (SLD). “The anatomy of the neurons we found was in line with what we knew,” explains Sakurai. “They were connected to neurons that control spontaneous movement, but not to neurons that control eye and visceral muscles. Importantly, they are inhibitory and You can prevent muscle movements when active. ”When researchers blocked input to these neurons, mice began to move during sleep, similar to people with REM sleep behavior disorder.

Narcolepsy is characterized by a sudden fall asleep at any time of the day, even in the middle of a sentence, as shown by Homer Simpson (Homer was diagnosed). ). Atonic seizures are related disorders in which people suddenly lose control of their muscles and collapse. They are awake, but their muscles behave like REM sleep.Sakurai and his team suspected that the special neurons they found might be related to these two. .. They tested the hypothesis using a mouse model of narcolepsy where chocolate can cause cataplex attacks. “Silenting the ventral medial medulla oblongata from the SLD has been found to reduce the number of cataplex attacks,” says Sakurai.

Overall, experiments have shown these special circuit controls Atony in both REM sleep and atonic seizures. “Glycinergic neurons identified in the medial ventral medullary potential may be good targets for drug therapy in people with narcolepsy, cataplexy, or REM sleep behavior disorder,” says Sakurai. “Future research needs to look at how emotions known to cause atonic seizures affect these neurons.”

Identification of neuronal suppressors of atonic seizures and sudden weakening of muscle control in narcolepsy

For more information:
Shuntaro Uchida et al., A discrete glycinergic neuron population in the ventromedial medulla oblongata that induces atonic seizures in muscle atony and mice during REM sleep. Journal of Neuroscience (2020). DOI: 10.1523 / JNEUROSCI.0688-20.2020

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