Experience-dependent changes in cerebral activation during human REM sleep

Nat Neurosci. 2000 Aug;3(8):831-6. doi: 10.1038/77744.


The function of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep is still unknown. One prevailing hypothesis suggests that REM sleep is important in processing memory traces. Here, using positron emission tomography (PET) and regional cerebral blood flow measurements, we show that waking experience influences regional brain activity during subsequent sleep. Several brain areas activated during the execution of a serial reaction time task during wakefulness were significantly more active during REM sleep in subjects previously trained on the task than in non-trained subjects. These results support the hypothesis that memory traces are processed during REM sleep in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Wakefulness / physiology*