Rapid Eye Movements Show When the Scenes Change in Your Dreams

Aug 18, 2015

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By Alexandra Ossola

It’s easy to know when someone is in REM sleep—her eyes move quickly back and forth. Researchers have long known that the movements accompany dreaming, and theorized that the nature of the movements were indicative ofsome aspect of the dreams. Now researchers have monitored the activity of individual neurons to find that the eye movements are associated with a sort of “scene change” in the dream, they say. The researchers reported their findings this week in Nature Communications.

The researchers took electroencephalograms (EEGs) to monitor the brain activity of 19 patients over four years, both while they were asleep and awake. The scientists were looking at neurons all over the brain, but they were paying special attention to those in the medial temporal lobe. Interestingly, this area of the brain isn’t associated with vision—it’s important for declarative memory, your brain’s conscious recollection of facts and events.


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