Dissociated Pattern of Activity in Visual Cortices and Their Projections During Human Rapid Eye Movement Sleep

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Science  02 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5347, pp. 91-95
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5347.91

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Positron emission tomography was used to measure cerebral activity and to evaluate regional interrelationships within visual cortices and their projections during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in human subjects. REM sleep was associated with selective activation of extrastriate visual cortices, particularly within the ventral processing stream, and an unexpected attenuation of activity in the primary visual cortex; increases in regional cerebral blood flow in extrastriate areas were significantly correlated with decreases in the striate cortex. Extrastriate activity was also associated with concomitant activation of limbic and paralimbic regions, but with a marked reduction of activity in frontal association areas including lateral orbital and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices. This pattern suggests a model for brain mechanisms subserving REM sleep where visual association cortices and their paralimbic projections may operate as a closed system dissociated from the regions at either end of the visual hierarchy that mediate interactions with the external world.

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