A world first: Douglas Institute researchers identify neural circuits of REM sleep

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A team of scientists led by Dr. Antoine Adamantidis, a researcher at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and an assistant professor at McGill University, has released the findings from their latest study, which will appear in the October issue of the prestigious scientific journal Nature Neuroscience. Previous studies had established an association between
the activity of certain types of neurons and the phase of sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement). Researchers on the team of Dr. Antoine Adamantidis identified, for the first time, a precise causal link between neuronal activity in the lateral hypothalamus (LH) and the state of REM sleep. Using optogenetics, they were able to induce REM sleep in mice and modulate the duration of this sleep phase by activating the neuronal network in this area of the brain. This achievement is an important contribution to the understanding of sleep mechanisms in the brains of mammals, as well as the underlying neuronal network, which is still not well understood despite recent breakthroughs in neuroscience. “These research findings could help us better grasp how the brain controls sleep and better understand the role of sleep in humans.These results could also lead to new therapeutic strategies to treat sleep disorders along with associated neuropsychiatric problems,” stated Dr. Antoine Adamantidis, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Neural Circuits and Optogenetics.

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