When Eyes Move During REM Sleep, They’re Gazing at Things in Dreams

Eye Movements in REM Sleep Mimic Gazes in the Dream World

Multiple Brain Regions Coordinate to Conjure Wholly Imagined Worlds

By Robin Marks


When our eyes move during REM sleep, we’re gazing at things in the dream world our brains have created, according to a new study by researchers at UC San Francisco. The findings shed light not only into how we dream, but also into how our imaginations work.

REM sleep – named for the rapid eye movements associated with it – has been known since the 1950s to be the phase of sleep when dreams occur. But the purpose of the eye movements has remained a matter of much mystery and debate.

“We showed that these eye movements aren’t random. They’re coordinated with what’s happening in the virtual dream world of the mouse,” said Massimo Scanziani, PhD, senior author on the study, which appears in the Aug. 25, 2022, issue of Science. <Read More>