Sleep Med Psychophysiol.  2009 Dec;16(2):49-55.

Basic Neurobiological Aspect of Dream

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Gachon University of Medicine and Science, Incheon, Korea.


This review aims to introduce the basic neurobiological aspects of dream. There have been long debates on whether the neurobiology of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is identical to that of dream. However, many theories on dream are based on the findings of REM sleep. Bizarre cognition and intense emotion in dream have been suggested to derive from physiological (e.g. desynchronized gamma oscillation and postsynaptic inhibition), chemical (e.g. decreased noradrenalin and serotonin, increased acetylcholine and modulation of dopamine), anatomical (e.g. deactivation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and activation of limbic and paralimbic areas) change in REM sleep. In addition, dream has been suggested to play its neurobiological roles. Processing of negative emotion may be one of the functions of dream. Dream is also supposed to consolidate memory, especially semantic memory. Despite a number of hypotheses and debates, the neurobiological mechanism of dream generation has not been concluded.


Dream; Neurobiology
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