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Nat Neurosci. 2017 Jun;20(6):872-878. doi: 10.1038/nn.4545. Epub 2017 Apr 10.

The neural correlates of dreaming.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
2
Center for Research and Investigation in Sleep (CIRS), Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
3
Sleep Laboratory, Division of Pneumology, Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), Geneva, Switzerland.
4
Department of Neuroscience, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
5
IMT School for Advanced Studies, Lucca, Italy.
6
Medical Scientist Training Program and Neuroscience Training Program, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
7
Department of Neurology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
8
Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

Abstract

Consciousness never fades during waking. However, when awakened from sleep, we sometimes recall dreams and sometimes recall no experiences. Traditionally, dreaming has been identified with rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep, characterized by wake-like, globally 'activated', high-frequency electroencephalographic activity. However, dreaming also occurs in non-REM (NREM) sleep, characterized by prominent low-frequency activity. This challenges our understanding of the neural correlates of conscious experiences in sleep. Using high-density electroencephalography, we contrasted the presence and absence of dreaming in NREM and REM sleep. In both NREM and REM sleep, reports of dream experience were associated with local decreases in low-frequency activity in posterior cortical regions. High-frequency activity in these regions correlated with specific dream contents. Monitoring this posterior 'hot zone' in real time predicted whether an individual reported dreaming or the absence of dream experiences during NREM sleep, suggesting that it may constitute a core correlate of conscious experiences in sleep.

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PMID:
28394322
PMCID:
PMC5462120
DOI:
10.1038/nn.4545
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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