Eye movements during sleep may reflect where you are looking in a dream, suggests a new study by University of California researchers. Rapid eye movement (REP) sleep, a period of sleep when your eyes move under your eyelids, has long been a subject of fascination for researchers around the world. While REM sleep is also thought to be a period when people have vivid dreams, no concrete studies have been done to establish a relationship between eye movement in sleep and vivid dreams.
Previous studies attempted to address the relationship between the two factors by monitoring people’s eye movements and waking them to ask what they were dreaming of.
However, the studies led to conflicting results, possibly due to misreporting of dreams and the technical limitation to match a given eye movement to a specific moment in a self-reported dream.
New studyResearchers at the University of California attempted to measure dreams through the electrical activity of the brain while asleep. Instead of humans, the team looked at mice, which are known to experience REM sleep. study was published in the magazine science,
The researchers observed the activity of nerve cells in the mice’s thalamus, a type of internal compass responsible for pointing the head in a particular direction. The research team used small, implanted probes to record the rats’ neural activity while they were awake. With a series of cameras, he also captured every dart and wink in his eye.
The sensors remained active while the rats were asleep and saccades, using rapid eye movements between fixed fixation points during the waking period, were then used to determine the relationship between eye movement during REM and the desired direction in their mental world. it was done. ,
The discovery showed that the direction of eye movement in sleeping rats corresponded exactly to the change in head direction, just as in awake rats when they gaze. This meant that eye movements during REM sleep could reveal changes of gaze in the virtual world of dreams, providing a window into the cognitive processes that occur in dreams.
The study was able to establish that the part of the brain that controls the sense of head direction coordinates with the part that controls eye movements in REM sleep.
The researchers said they believe the study could be a breakthrough in understanding brain function during sleep.