Perchance to dream? Primordial motor activity patterns in vertebrates from fish to mammals: their prenatal origin, postnatal persistence during sleep, and pathological reemergence during REM sleep behavior disorder

Michael A. Corner, Carlos H. Schenck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

An overview is presented of the literature dealing with sleep-like motility and concomitant neuronal activity patterns throughout the life cycle in vertebrates, ectothermic as well as endothermic. Spontaneous, periodically modulated, neurogenic bursts of non-purposive movements are a universal feature of larval and prenatal behavior, which in endothermic animals (i.e. birds and mammals) continue to occur periodically throughout life. Since the entire body musculature is involved in ever-shifting combinations, it is proposed that these spontaneously active periods be designated as ‘rapid-BODY-movement’ (RBM) sleep. The term ‘rapid-EYE-movement (REM) sleep’, characterized by attenuated muscle contractions and reduced tonus, can then be reserved for sleep at later stages of development. Mature stages of development in which sustained muscle atonia is combined with ‘paradoxical arousal’ of cortical neuronal firing patterns indisputably represent the evolutionarily most recent aspect of REM sleep, but more research with ectothermic vertebrates, such as fish, amphibians and reptiles, is needed before it can be concluded (as many prematurely have) that RBM is absent in these species. Evidence suggests a link between RBM sleep in early development and the clinical condition known as ‘REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD)’, which is characterized by the resurgence of periodic bouts of quasi-fetal motility that closely resemble RBM sleep. Early developmental neuromotor risk factors for RBD in humans also point to a relationship between RBM sleep and RBD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-662
Number of pages14
JournalNeuroscience Bulletin
Volume31
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Keywords

  • REM sleep behavior disorder
  • development
  • evolution
  • neuronal networks
  • neuroplasticity
  • sleep
  • spike-train analysis
  • spontaneous motility

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