Sleep Disorders

Updated 04 July 2014

High dream recallers show more brain activity

High dream recallers show higher levels of activity in the brain's medial prefrontal cortex and temporo-parietal junction, which is an information-processing hub.

People who often remember their dreams have high levels of activity in certain areas of the brain, a new study says.

Researchers led by Perrine Ruby, of the Lyon Neuroscience Research Centre in France, conducted brain scans on 41 people while they were awake and while they slept.

Of the participants, 21 remembered dreams an average of about five mornings per week ("high dream recallers") and 20 remembered dreams only two mornings per month ("low dream recallers").

When asleep and awake, the high dream recallers showed higher levels of activity in the brain's medial prefrontal cortex and temporo-parietal junction, which is an information-processing hub, according to a news release from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM).

The study was published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

More periods of wakefulness

Previous research by the same team found that high dream recallers have twice as many periods of wakefulness during the night and that their brains react more to sounds while they're sleeping and awake, compared to low dream recallers.

Read: The mystifying brain

The increased brain activity in high dream recallers may cause them to wake up more often during sleep and thereby improve their recollection of dreams, Ruby said in the news release.

She noted that the "sleeping brain is not capable of memorising new information; it needs to awaken to be able to do that."

The researchers also said that high dream recallers may have more dreams than low recallers and therefore more dreams to remember.

Read more:

Bad dreams good for you

The brain speaks

The world of dreams

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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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