The hippocampus is linked with both sleep and memory, but there is debate about whether a salient aspect of sleep – dreaming – requires its input. To address this question, we investigated if human patients with focal bilateral hippocampal damage and amnesia engaged in dreaming. We employed a provoked awakening protocol where participants were woken up at various points throughout the night, including during non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement sleep, to report their thoughts in that moment. Despite being roused a similar number of times, dream frequency was reduced in the patients compared to control participants, and the few dreams they reported were less episodic-like in nature and lacked content. These results suggest that hippocampal integrity may be necessary for typical dreaming to occur, and aligns dreaming with other hippocampal-dependent processes such as episodic memory that are central to supporting our mental life.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)