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Sleep. 2001 Dec 15;24(8):947-55.

The mind in REM sleep: reports of emotional experience.

Author information

1
Institute of Psychology, University in Oslo. roar.fosse@psykologi.uio.no

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVES:

No consensus has been reached on the characteristics of emotional experience during rapid eye movement sleep (REM). Thus, the relationship between the emotional brain activation and mental activity in REM remains unclear. Our objective is to characterize emotional experience in REM in order to facilitate understanding of brain-mind correlations in this state.

DESIGN:

We combined instrumental awakenings from REM with the subjects' own ratings of the occurrence and intensity of discrete emotion types for each line in their REM mentation reports.

SETTING:

The study was performed in the subjects' own homes over three consecutive nights using ambulatory polysomnography.

PARTICIPANTS:

Nine normal healthy subjects, age 31-60 (mean=43.0).

INTERVENTIONS:

Awakenings 5-15 minutes into REM periods across the night.

MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS:

Emotions were found in 74% of 88 mentation reports, with a balanced proportion of positive and negative emotions. Among the reports scored for emotions, 14% contained one emotion and 86% contained two or more different emotion types. Joy/elation was the most frequent emotion, found in 36% of the reports, followed by surprise (24%), anger (17%), anxiety/fear (11%), and sadness (10%). Anxiety/fear was significantly less intense than joy/elation, anger, and surprise. Except for surprise, no specific emotion type changed from the first to the second half of the night. Negative emotions and surprise but not positive emotions varied significantly across subjects.

CONCLUSIONS:

The analysis of subject reports of emotions following instrumental awakenings demonstrate a balanced and widespread occurrence of both positive and negative emotions in REM sleep dreams. Emotions in REM are likely to be powerfully modulated by the neurobiological processes which differentiate REM from waking.

PMID:
11766165
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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