In the journal Science, Japanese and Chinese research teams emphasized about an association between dopamine production in the basolateral amygdala region of the brain and the onset of REM sleep.
The study was conducted at Japan’s University of Tsukuba and Peking University situated in China.
The study used fiber photometry to examine the mechanisms by which the brain cycles between sleep states. Researchers watched as cells in the basolateral amygdala had been activated in different phases of the sleep cycle.
“Using fiber photometry, Hasegawa et al. found increases in dopamine activation before non-REM to REM transitions but not before non-REM to wake transitions in the basolateral amygdala,” according to the study.
“This effect was mediated by dopamine receptor D2-expressing neurons in the amygdala. Artificially activating these neurons induced a transition from non-REM to REM sleep and cataplectic states in awake mice.”
“These results show a critical role of DA signaling in the BLA in initiating REM sleep and provide a neuronal basis for sleep cycle generation.”