Active Reward Processing during Human Sleep: Insights from Sleep-Related Eating Disorder

Front Neurol. 2012 Nov 27;3:168. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2012.00168. eCollection 2012.


In this paper, we present two carefully documented cases of patients with sleep-related eating disorder (SRED), a parasomnia which is characterized by involuntary compulsive eating during the night and whose pathophysiology is not known. Using video-polysomnography, a dream diary and psychometric examination, we found that both patients present elevated novelty seeking and increased reward sensitivity. In light of new evidence on the mesolimbic dopaminergic implication in compulsive eating disorders, our findings suggest a role of an active reward system during sleep in the manifestation of SRED.

Keywords: dreaming; mesolimbic dopaminergic system; parasomnias; reward processing; sleep; sleep-related eating disorder.