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The brainstem is a part of the brain that connects the cerebrum with the spinal cord. It comprises the mesencenphalon or midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata, and contributes to motor and sensory innervation, cardiovascular and respiratory control, and consciousness.
Dreaming occurs in REM sleep, yet the neural mechanisms involved in generating it are not understood. Here Cox and colleagues show that glutamatergic neurons in the dorsal pons are activated most during transition to REM sleep while GABAergic neurons are more active during waking state.
How neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) respond to reward related behaviours is not known. Here, Li and colleagues report that DRN serotoninergic neurons are phasically activated by rewards such as sex, food and sucrose, and tonically activated during reward anticipation, while GABAergic neurons respond to punishment.
Optogenetic stimulation of the locus coeruleus noradrenergic neurons can increase wakefulness, and high-frequency stimulation decreases noradrenaline levels and produces loss of muscle tone similar to that seen in cataplexy.