Effects of amygdala lesions on sleep in rhesus monkeys

Brain Res. 2000 Oct 6;879(1-2):130-8. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(00)02761-x.


The amygdala is important in processing emotion and in the acquisition and expression of fear and anxiety. It also appears to be involved in the regulation of sleep and wakefulness. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of, fiber-sparing lesions of the amygdala on sleep in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). We recorded sleep from 18 age-matched male rhesus monkeys, 11 of which had previously received ibotenic acid lesions of the amygdala and seven of which were normal controls. Surface electrodes for sleep recording were attached and the subjects were seated in a restraint chair (to which they had been adapted) for the nocturnal sleep period. Despite adaptation, control animals had sleep patterns characterized by frequent arousals. Sleep was least disrupted in animals with large bilateral lesions of the amygdala. They had more sleep and a higher proportion of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep than did either animals with smaller lesions or control animals. Based on these results, it seems likely that, in the primate, the amygdala plays a role in sleep regulation and may be important in mediating the effects of emotions/stress on sleep. These findings may also be relevant to understanding sleep disturbances associated with psychopathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / drug effects
  • Amygdala / pathology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Ibotenic Acid / toxicity
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Stages / physiology
  • Sleep, REM / physiology
  • Wakefulness / physiology


  • Ibotenic Acid