Journal of Neurophysiology

REM sleep burst neurons, PGO waves, and eye movement information

J. P. Nelson, R. W. McCarley, J. A. Hobson


Pontogeniculooccipital (PGO) waves appeared almost simultaneously in both lateral geniculate nuclei (LGB), but in each case on had a larger amplitude and preceded the other by a few milliseconds. The larger, earlier wave is called the primary wave. Primary waves were found to appear with equal frequency in each LGB. During rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep), LGB primary waves were ipsilateral to the direction of rapid eye movements. During REM sleep a group of cat midbrain neurons, which we call PGO burst cells, fired in stereotyped bursts at fixed latencies before ipsilateral primary waves, but they almost never fired bursts when the primary waves were contralateral. PGO burst neuron discharge also correlated with the direction of rapid eye movements during REM sleep. In wakefulness, PGO burst cells fired single spikes, not bursts, which had some correlation with LGB waves when averaged by computer. The results suggest that PGO burst cells are output elements in the PGO wave-generation system ad that PGO waves convey eye movement information to the sensory visual system in REM sleep. They also may have a role in the production of saccade-related waves in the visual system during wakefulness.