October 1962

Dream Imagery: Relationship to Rapid Eye Movements of Sleep

Author Affiliations

The New York State Psychiatric Institute, and Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University (Dr. Roffwarg); Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, and The Mount Sinai Hospital (Dr. Dement, Dr. Fisher, Mr. Muzio).
This investigation was supported by Research Grant MY-3267 from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1962;7(4):235-258. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1962.01720040001001

George Trumbull Ladd39 suggested in 1892 that the visual elements of dreams were derivations of the "psychical synthesis" of night-time retinal sense data. This hypothesis led him to speculate that the eyeballs move during dreaming. "As we look down the street of a strange city, for example, in a dream we probably focus our eyes somewhat as we should do in making the same observation when awake. . . ."

Ladd's ingenious surmise went unverified until 1955 when Aserinsky and Kleitman2 reported actual observations of ocular movements during sleep. They described 2 types which appear at separate times during the night in a predictable pattern: (a) slow eye movements (SEM's)—,slow, often asynchronous, gliding excursions of the eyeballs at sleep onset and after every body movement occurring during the night's sleep; (b) rapid eye movements (REM's)—bursts of quick, binocularly synchronous, single and grouped ocular deviations often in clusters

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