, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 105-149

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

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  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. 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. 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. 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. 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.