Night sight: Our eyes scan the action in our dreams

Do the eyes scan dream images during rapid eye movement sleep? Evidence from the rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder model.Rapid eye movements and complex visual dreams are salient features of human rapid eye movement sleep. However, it remains to be elucidated whether the eyes scan dream images, despite studies that have retrospectively compared the direction of rapid eye movements to the dream recall recorded after having awakened the sleeper. We used the model of rapid eye movement sleep

behaviour disorder (when patients enact their dreams by persistence of muscle tone) to determine directly whether the eyes move in the same directions as the head and limbs. In 56 patients with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder and 17 healthy matched controls, the eye movements were monitored by electrooculography in four (right, left, up and down) directions, calibrated with a target and synchronized with video and sleep monitoring. The rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder-associated behaviours occurred 2.1 times more frequently during rapid eye movement sleep with than without rapid eye movements, and more often during or after rapid eye movements than before. Rapid eye movement density, index and complexity were similar in patients with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder and controls. When rapid eye movements accompanied goal-oriented motor behaviour during rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder (e.g. grabbing a fictive object, hand greetings, climbing a ladder), which happened in 19 sequences,

82% were directed towards the action of the patient (same plane and direction). When restricted to the determinant rapid eye movements, the concordance increased to 90%. Rapid eye movements were absent in 38–42% of behaviours. This directional coherence between limbs, head and eye movements during rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder suggests that, when present, rapid eye movements imitate the scanning of the dream scene. Since the rapid eye movements are similar in subjects with and without rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, this concordance can be extended to normal rapid eye movement sleep. news from  Correspondence to: Isabelle Arnulf, Unité des Pathologies du Sommeil, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, 47-83 Boulevard de l’Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France.  ~  Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is a normal stage of sleep characterized by the rapid movement of the eyes. REM sleep is classified into two categories: tonic and phasic. It was identified and defined by Nathaniel Kleitman and Eugene Aserinsky in the early 1950s. Criteria for REM sleep includes not only

rapid eye movement, but also low muscle tone and a rapid, low voltage EEG; these features are easily discernible in a polysomnogram, the sleep study typically done for patients with suspected sleep disorders. REM sleep in adult humans typically occupies 20–25% of total sleep, about 90–120 minutes of a night’s sleep. During a normal night of sleep, humans usually experience about four or five periods of REM sleep; they are quite short at the beginning of the night and longer toward the end. Many animals and some people tend to wake, or experience a period of very light sleep, for a short time immediately after a bout of REM. The relative amount of REM sleep varies considerably with age. A newborn baby spends more than 80% of total sleep time in REM.During REM, the activity of the brain’s neurons is quite similar to that during waking hours, but the body is paralyzed due to atonia; for this reason, the REM-sleep stage may be called paradoxical sleep.This means there are no dominating brain waves during REM sleep.REM sleep is physiologically different from the other phases of sleep, which are collectively referred to as non-REM sleep (NREM). Vividly recalled dreams mostly occur during REM sleep. ~ GoodNews International

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