Rapid Eye Movements And The Alternative Theory…

Most of the eye movements in “rapid eye movement” sleep are in fact less rapid than those normally exhibited by waking humans. They are also shorter in duration and more likely to loop back to their starting point.

About seven such loops take place over one minute of REM sleep. In slow-wave sleep the eyes can drift apart; however, the eyes of the paradoxical sleeper move in tandem. These eye movements follow the ponto-geniculo-occipital waves originating in the brain stem. The eye movements themselves may relate to the sense of vision experienced in the dream, but a direct relationship remains to be clearly established. Congenitally blind people, who do not typically have visual imagery in their dreams, still move their eyes in REM sleep. An alternative explanation suggests that the functional purpose of REM sleep is for procedural memory processing, and the rapid eye movement is only a side effect of the brain processing the eye-related procedural memory.

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