THE BRAIN AND DREAMS
compiled by Dee Finney
The researchers studied the patient's brainwaves as she slept
How dreams are generated, and what purpose they might serve, are completely open questions at this point Dr Claudio
University Hospital of Zurich
Most came back after a few days - but she then stopped dreaming. Before her stroke, she had dreamt three or four times a week.
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.
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 localization 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."
A stroke that robbed a 73-year-old woman of her dreams
helpede pinpoint where and how dreams are born in the brain. The stuff
that dreams are made of is a chunk of grey matter deep down at the back of
the human brain. The back half of the brain, which is involved in the
visual processing of faces and landmarks.
Friday, September 10, 2004
Woman's loss of dreams helps brain researchers make gains
By LEE BOWMAN
Swiss doctors may not yet know what makes us dream, but they're closer to understanding where they unfold in the brain by studying an elderly patient who lost her ability to dream following a stroke.
When the 73-year-old woman suffered a stroke, blood flow was disrupted to a relatively small, deep area in the back part of her brain.
According to a report published online today in the Annals of Neurology, she initially lost a number of brain functions, most related to loss of vision. Visual-information processing is localized in this area.
The visual problems went away within a few days of the stroke, but a new symptom emerged -- she had stopped dreaming.
Before the stroke, the Swiss woman recalled, she had experienced dreams three or four times a week -- even when she was awakened from rapid-eye-movement sleep, the prime time for dreaming.
The loss of dreams, along with visual disturbance, following a stroke has been known to doctors for almost 120 years. Neurologists Jean-Martin Charcot of France and Hermann Wilbrand of Germany first described the syndrome in 1887.
But dream-loss cases, especially without other symptoms, are rare, and Drs. Claudio Bassetti and Matthias Bischof, then at the University of Bern, realized they had a novel opportunity with the woman's illness to gather new information about the brain structures involved in our nocturnal netherworld.
"How dreams are generated, and what purpose they serve, are completely open questions at this point," Bassetti said. "These results describe for the first time in detail the extent of (brain) lesion necessary to produce loss of dreaming in the absence of other neurological deficits. They offer us a target for further study of the localization of dreaming."
For six weeks after the woman's stroke, the researchers studied her brain waves as she slept. They found no disruptions in her sleep cycle -- REM sleep continued normally. That's significant because dreaming and the cycles of REM sleep tend to occur together. However, research has shown that different brain systems support the two activities and that not all dreaming takes place during REM sleep.
With magnetic resonance imaging, Bischof and Bassetti, now at University Hospital of Zurich, confirmed that the stroke had damaged areas deep in the back half of the brain. Other recent research has shown that parts of this region are used for the visual processing of faces and landmarks, as well as the processing of emotions and visual memories -- all logical activities for a brain area that also generates or controls dreaming.
Over a longer time, the patient did recover some dream function. A year after the stroke, she reported having occasional dreams, but no more than one a week. And she said her dreams were of reduced vividness and intensity.
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MESSAGE - SANAT KUMARA
On The Pollen Path - Part One
CHILDREN - CHRYSTALLINE CHILDREN
INTELLIGENCE - JAIR FARM
- THE FINGER-POSTS OF GOD
Changing of the Guard: Part III: Illuminati Life and ...
OF THE RIDER ON THE WHITE HORSE
TUNING AND OUR PART IN IT
DREAMS, VISIONS, AND EXPERIENCES
VAULT OF HEAVEN - THE 28TH PATH
OUR CHILDREN WIRED INCORRECTLY?
SICKNESS - WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND THE SYMPTOMS?