Norepinephrine-Containing Neurons: Changes in Spontaneous Discharge Patterns during Sleeping and Waking

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Science  02 Mar 1973:
Vol. 179, Issue 4076, pp. 908-910
DOI: 10.1126/science.179.4076.908


Norepinephrine-containing neurons of the locus coeruleus of the cat were recorded with microelectrodes during unrestrained sleeping and waking. The recorded neurons were subsequently defined by combined fluorescence histochemistry of catecholamines and production of microlesions at recording sites. These pontine units show homogeneous changes in discharge patterns with respect to sleep stages, firing slowly during drowsy periods and slow wave sleep and firing in rapid bursts during paradoxical sleep. These data provide a direct correlation between the activity of defined catecholamine-containing neurons and the spontaneous occurrence of sleep stages.