Pedunculopontine nucleus

The pedunculopontine nucleus or pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus is a collection of neurons located in the upper pons in the brainstem.[1][2] It lies caudal to the substantia nigra and adjacent to the superior cerebellar peduncle. It has two divisions of subnuclei; the pars compacta containing mainly cholinergic neurons, and the pars dissipata containing mainly glutamatergic neurons and some non-cholinergic neurons.[2] The pedunculopontine nucleus is one of the main components of the reticular activating system.[3][4] It was first described in 1909 by Louis Jacobsohn-Lask, a German neuroanatomist.[5][6]

Pedunculopontine nucleus
Latinnucleus tegmentalis pedunculopontinus
NeuroLex IDbirnlex_1437
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy


Pedunculopontine nucleus neurons project axons to a wide range of areas in the brain,[7] particularly parts of the basal ganglia such as the subthalamic nucleus, substantia nigra pars compacta, and globus pallidus internus. It also sends them to targets in the thalamus, cerebellum, basal forebrain, and lower brainstem, and in the cerebral cortex, the supplementary motor area and somatosensory and motor cortices.[3][4][8]

It receives inputs from many areas of the brain,[7] including the basal ganglia to which it projects with the exception of the substantia nigra pars compacta to which it projects but does not receive, while it receives but does not project to the substantia nigra pars reticulata.[3][4]


The pedunculopontine nucleus is involved in many functions, including arousal, attention, learning, reward, and voluntary limb movements and locomotion.[9][10] While once thought important to the initiation of movement, recent research suggests a role in providing sensory feedback to the cerebral cortex.[9] It is also implicated in the generation and maintenance of REM sleep.[7]

Recent research has discovered that the pedunculopontine nucleus is involved in the planning of movement, and that different networks of neurons in the pedunculopontine nucleus are switched on during real and imagined movement.[10]

Parkinson disease

Research is being done on whether deep brain stimulation of the pedunculopontine nucleus might be used to improve the gait and postural difficulties found in Parkinson disease.[9][11]


  1. Jankovic, Joseph (2015). "Gait disorders". In Jankovic, Joseph (ed.). Movement Disorders, An Issue of Neurologic Clinics. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier. pp. 249–268. ISBN 978-0-323-35446-2.
  2. French, IT; Muthusamy, KA (2018). "A Review of the Pedunculopontine Nucleus in Parkinson's Disease". Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 10: 99. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2018.00099. PMC 5933166. PMID 29755338.
  3. Garcia-Rill E (1991). "The pedunculopontine nucleus". Prog. Neurobiol. 36 (5): 363–89. doi:10.1016/0301-0082(91)90016-t. PMID 1887068.
  4. Winn P (October 2006). "How best to consider the structure and function of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus: evidence from animal studies". J. Neurol. Sci. 248 (1–2): 234–50. doi:10.1016/j.jns.2006.05.036. PMID 16765383.
  5. Jenkinson N, Nandi D (July 2009). "Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathophysiology of the Pedunculopontine Nucleus". Mov Disord. 24 (3): 319–328. doi:10.1002/mds.22189. PMID 19097193.
  6. Über die Kerne des menschlichen Hirnstamms (Medulla oblongata, Pons und Pedunculus cerebri), Berlin, 1909. pag. 58, fig. 22
  7. Mena-Segovia, Juan; Bolam, J. Paul; Martinez-Gonzalez, Cristina (2011). "Topographical Organization of the Pedunculopontine Nucleus". Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. 5: 22. doi:10.3389/fnana.2011.00022. PMC 3074429. PMID 21503154.
  8. Aravamuthan BR, Muthusamy KA, Stein JF, Aziz TZ, Johansen-Berg H (2007). "Topography of cortical and subcortical connections of the human pedunculopontine and subthalamic nuclei". NeuroImage. 37 (3): 694–705. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.05.050. PMID 17644361.
  9. Tsang EW, Hamani C, Moro E, Mazzella F, Poon YY, Lozano AM, Chen R (2010). "Involvement of the human pedunculopontine nucleus region in voluntary movements". Neurology. 75 (11): 950–9. doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181f25b35. PMC 2942031. PMID 20702790.
  10. Tattersall TL, et al. (2014). "Imagined gait modulates neuronal network dynamics in the human pedunculopontine nucleus" (PDF). Nature Neuroscience. 17 (3): 449–454. doi:10.1038/nn.3642. PMID 24487235.
  11. Benarroch, Eduardo E. (19 March 2013). "Pedunculopontine nucleus Functional organization and clinical implications". Neurology. 80 (12): 1148–1155. doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182886a76. PMID 23509047.
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