REM sleep key for young brain development

New York, July 4 (IANS) Young human brains go through critical periods when vision, speech, language, motor skills, social skills and other higher cognitive functions are being developed.

During these periods, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep actively converts waking experiences into lasting memories and abilities in young brains, says a study.

REM is a unique phase of sleep characterised by the random movement of the eyes, low muscle tone throughout the body and the propensity of the sleeper to dream vividly.

“It helps growing brains adjust the strength or number of their neuronal connections to match the input they receive from their environment,” said researchers from Washington State University-Spokane.

“REM sleep acts like the chemical developer in old-fashioned photography to make traces of experience more permanent and focused in the brain,” said Marcos Frank, professor of medical sciences.

Providing new insights, Frank and colleagues documented the effects of sleep on vision development in young animals.

The researchers found that brain circuits change in the visual cortex as animals explore the world around them, but that REM sleep is required to make those changes “stick”.

“Experience is fragile. These traces tend to vanish without REM sleep and the brain basically forgets what it saw,” Frank added.

REM sleep may be important for the development of other parts of the brain beyond the visual cortex and its effects may continue throughout a lifetime.

The findings also broaden the understanding of children’s sleep needs and calls into question the increasing use of REM-disrupting medications such as stimulants and anti-depressants.

The paper appeared in the journal Science Advances.


Leave a Reply

Please enter your comment!

The opinions, views, and thoughts expressed by the readers and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of or any employee thereof. is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the readers. Responsibility for the content of comments belongs to the commenter alone.  

We request the readers to refrain from posting defamatory, inflammatory comments and not indulge in personal attacks. However, it is obligatory on the part of to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments to the concerned authorities upon their request.

Hence we request all our readers to help us to delete comments that do not follow these guidelines by informing us at Lets work together to keep the comments clean and worthful, thereby make a difference in the community.

Please enter your name here