Abstract

Physostigmine (an anticholinesterase agent that increases acetylcholine at the synapse), in a dose of 0.5 milligram, was given intravenously to seven normal human volunteers. When injected during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, physostigmine woke the subjects, and when injected during non-REM sleep, it induced REM sleep. This result suggests that cholinergic mechanisms play a role in the induction of REM sleep and in modulating cortical arousal mechanisms.

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