'Dream centre' of the brain found

Scientists believe they have located the part of the brain where people’s dreams are created.

A team from the University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland, made the discovery after treating a woman who stopped dreaming after she had a stroke.

It had affected an area deep in the back of the brain - and they suggest this is the area controlling dreaming.

The researchers, writing in the Annals of Neurology, say the finding offers a new focus for dream research.

The 73-year-old patient lost a number of brain functions, mostly related to vision, with her stroke.

Most came back after a few days - but she then stopped dreaming. Before her stroke, she had dreamt three or four times a week.

REM sleep

The loss of the ability to dream - along with visual disturbances - following damage to a specific part of the brain, is called Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome, named after the eminent neurologists Jean-Martin Charcot and Hermann Wilbrand, who first described it in the 1880s.

The syndrome is quite rare, especially cases that lack symptoms other than dream loss.

The Swiss researchers decided to monitor the patient to try to discover which part of the brain was affected in people with the condition.

They monitored the woman’s brainwaves for six weeks as she slept.

Her sleep was not disrupted, and she continued to have REM (rapid eye movement) sleep as normal.

This is significant, because dreaming and REM sleep occur together, although research has pointed to different brain systems underlying the two.

The researchers say their findings appear to confirm that dreaming and REM sleep are driven by independent brain systems.

Scans of the patient’s brain showed the stroke had damaged areas located deep in the back half of her brain.

Brain damage

Other studies have shown that some of this region is involved in the visual processing of faces and landmarks, as well as the processing of emotions and visual memories, a logical set of functions for a brain area that would generate or control dreams.

After around a year, the patient did begin to have occasional dreams, but no more than one per week.

She reported that her dreams were less vivid and intense than they were before the stroke.

Writing in the Annals of Neurology, Dr Claudio Bassetti, of the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland, who led the research, said: "How dreams are generated, and what purpose they might serve, are completely open questions at this point.

"These results describe for the first time in detail the extent of lesion necessary to produce loss of dreaming in the absence of other neurological deficits.

“As such, they offer a target for further study of the localisation of dreaming.”

He added: “Further conclusions about this brain area and its role in dreams will require more studies analysing dream changes in patients with brain damage.”


Interesting! Any budding neurobiologists out there looking for a Dissertation topic?

Gather quite a large sample and find what activates this portion of the brain, then develop a small, expensive device to sell!

I thought you had more dreams than that ;Z
Or maybe she only recalled 3-4 dreams per week. ^-^

Besides of that, this is realy intressting.
Got ay more articles on the same subject that you may share with us?

intereting i remember reading this article a while ago in my psychology class, if i am not mistaken i beleive that it is the Pods or ponds or somthing like that that is the brain area that causes dreams, i will re read over my notes and see what information i can find on it. thanx for resparking this :razz:

Hmmm ? How do you know that somebody doesn’t dream ? She could have lost her dream recall…

if you dont dream you die… that is after quite a few nights, so taht would be one way to see :wink:

This almost can be matching a victim to a crime. It does sound like it could be something worth investing research into though.

*Crashing and banging through blueprints and tools in his shed, “where is that brain”

I posted this in stuff dreams are made of. :eh:

It seems to me like these scientists haven’t done thier homework on dreaming…

They seem to have mixed up dreaming and dream recall. You have something like 7 - 12 dreams a night. This lady only remembered having three or four dreams a week, but really she had over thirty.

She simply managed to regain her DR. However, it was not as good as it use to be. I’m sure she had just as many dreams as before.

They probably lost no vividness at all. But as she had weaker DR she couldn’t remember them as well - and thus they seem less vivid.

So, it has damaged her memories. More proof of a weaker DR.

I agree with this and is the first thing that came to mind when reading the document. So, that really raises the biggest question - why is she still alive even though she ‘hasn’t dreamt for a year’?

What makes you think that inability to have dreams will lead to death? A prolonged lack of DEEP sleep will certainly lead to many health problems, seeing how deep sleep is the regeneration of body and mind on the physiological level.

I wish they would have named the specific lobe of the brain they claim to be responsible for the cognitive model management of dreams :neutral:

Pons; it’s above the brain stem and below the lymbic area

If she has not lost any other memory functions, which I would have to assume they tested, then the researchers could still well postulate that it was infact a loss of dreaming and not a loss of dream recall.

After a week or two (can’t remember which one it is) of no REM, you can do very little. You can’t move properly, can’t think straight, are prone to hallucinations and many other problems.

Leave it a little longer and you die (yes, this has been tested - the animals which it was tested on still got deep sleep, just no REM).

Do you have a link to that info? I’ve never heard of REM deprevation doing that, but NREM (deep sleep) deprevation certainly will cause those symptoms and health deterioration.

I’ll see if I can find the topic here…

EDIT: Sorry, can’t find it :/.

I’ve never heard such claims about REM deprevation either. I’m going to look at that, but right now I’m back to the mouse & MS On-Screen Keyboard… :tongue:

This might be the finding you’re looking for, a paper published in the journal SLEEP in 1989 by Kushida et al. Here’s the abstract (note the REM sleep is referred to as paradoxal sleep):

Twelve rats were subjected to paradoxical sleep deprivation (PSD) by the disk apparatus. All PSD rats died or were sacrificed when death seemed imminent within 16-54 days. No anatomical cause of death was identified. All PSD rats showed a debilitated appearance, lesions on their tails and paws, and weight loss in spite of increased food intake. Their yoked control (PSC) rats remained healthy. Since dehydration was ruled out and several measures indicated normal or accelerated use of nutrients, the food-weight changes in PSD rats were attributed to increased energy expenditure (EE). The measurement of EE, based upon caloric value of food, weight, and wastes, indicated that all PSD rats increased EE, with mean levels reaching more than twice baseline values. All of these changes had been observed in rats deprived totally of sleep; the major difference was that they developed more slowly in PSD rats.

Hmm…that is interesting. :cool:

I would think that dreams are governed by more than just one part of the brain. The Pons area may be the main part, but isn’t there also something to do with the visual, audio and tactile sytems in the brain?