Eye movements during REM sleep and imagination of visual scenes

Andreas Sprenger*, Maren Lappe-Osthege, Silke Talamo, Steffen Gais, Hubert Kimmig, Christoph Helmchen

*Corresponding author for this work
13 Citations (Scopus)


It has been hypothesized that rapid eye movements (REMs) during sleep reflect the process of looking around in dreams. We questioned whether REMs differ from eye movements in wakefulness while imagining previously seen visual stimuli (dots, static images, videos). After looking at these stimuli individuals were asked to remember and imagine them. Subsequently, their REMs were recorded at the sleep laboratory. Kinematic parameters of REMs were similar to saccadic eye movements to remembered stimuli with closed eyes, irrespective of the stimulus type. In contrast, peak velocity of eye movements with open eyes was similar to REMs when semantic, but not nonsemantic, contents were imagined. Thus, REMs may be related to exploratory saccadic behaviour in the awake to remember visual stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)45-49
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2010

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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