Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 105–149

Pontogeniculooccipital waves: spontaneous visual system activity during rapid eye movement sleep

  • Clifton W. Callaway
  • Ralph Lydic
  • Helen A. Baghdoyan
  • J. Allan Hobson
Review and Commentary

DOI: 10.1007/BF00711551

Cite this article as:
Callaway, C.W., Lydic, R., Baghdoyan, H.A. et al. Cell Mol Neurobiol (1987) 7: 105. doi:10.1007/BF00711551


  1. 1.

    Pontogeniculooccipital (PGO) waves are recorded during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep from the pontine reticular formation, lateral geniculate bodies, and occipital cortex of many species.

  2. 2.

    PGO waves are associated with increased visual system excitability but arise spontaneously and not via stimulation of the primary visual afferents. Both auditory and somatosensory stimuli influence PGO wave activity.

  3. 3.

    Studies using a variety of techniques suggest that the pontine brain stem is the site of PGO wave generation. Immediately prior to the appearance of PGO waves, neurons located in the region of the brachium conjunctivum exhibit bursts of increased firing, while neurons in the dorsal raphe nuclei show a cessation of firing.

  4. 4.

    The administration of pharmacological agents antagonizing noradrenergic or serotonergic neurotransmission increases the occurrence of PGO waves independent of REM sleep. Cholinomimetic administration increases the occurrence of both PGO waves and other components of REM sleep.

  5. 5.

    Regarding function, the PGO wave-generating network has been postulated to inform the visual system about eye movements, to promote brain development, and to facilitate the response to novel environmental stimuli.


Key words

pontogeniculooccipital wavesrapid eye movement (REM) sleepmonoaminesacetylcholinepontine reticular formationlateral geniculate bodiesoccipital cortexcorollary discharge

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clifton W. Callaway
    • 1
  • Ralph Lydic
    • 1
    • 2
  • Helen A. Baghdoyan
    • 1
    • 3
  • J. Allan Hobson
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of NeurophysiologyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Medicine and PhysiologyPennsylvania State University, College of MedicineHersheyUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Anesthesia and PharmacologyPennsylvania State University, College of MedicineHersheyUSA