As a side note, I happen to be listening to a remix of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” while writing this entry, and hence the random title. Over my tenure of blogging, I have neglected to mention another critical structure involved with the regulation of sleep/wake. There have been plenty of discussions about the SCN this and the SCN that, but it isn’t the only master control center.
Without further ado, I introduce the ventrolateral preoptic area (VLPO) photomicrographed below.
It’s not a coincidence that this structure is in the hypothalamus and anterior to the SCN. Lot’s of cross-talking within that region. The VLPO has GABA and galanin-ergic projections that extend onto wake-promoting areas including the serotonin-expressing raphe nuclei of the midbrain, the histamine-expressing tuberomammaliary nuclei (reason why antihistamines cause drowsiness), and dopamine-expressing mesolimbic areas.
Yesterday, an article in the European Journal of Neuroscience was published on the role of the VLPO in REM and NREM rebounds following a period of sleep deprivation.
More tidbits for cocktail hour.