Scientists discovered the reason behind the movement of eyes while we dream

Fareeha Arshad
Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

If you ever look closely at somebody who is sleeping, you will see the continuous movements of their eyes behind their closed eyelids. Researchers have recently performed a deep study behind this strange phenomenon and observed that eye flickering happens primarily because of REM sleep patterns. Recent studies on mice, whose eyes also flicker while they sleep, have baffled scientists.

Researchers describe the rapid flickering of the eyes behind the lids as saccades. This usually is a neural response that happens when the body is swiftly experiencing unconsciousness.

Previously, it was believed that the rapid movement of the eyes behind the closed eyelids could be because the eyes try to keep track of the changes happening in the dreamland for the person who is sleeping. However, this is not entirely true, and this hypothesis has left room for much doubt. For starters, sometimes, the person does not experience any dreams during REM sleep. This happens in the cases of infants or among people with brain injuries.

Scientists from the University of California studied mice and their sleep activity to derive further conclusions on this phenomenon. They investigated the neural cell activity in the thalamus region of mice. The thalamus is a region in the brain that helps the head in a given specific direction. When the mice were awake, the researchers observed that the saccade coincided with the movements of the head. This means that much-sophisticated coordination exists throughout REM sleep throughout the brain that controls body movements across an imaginary space.

Researchers believe that this unique study will help provide perspectives on the therapy options to help people improve their memory and also to overcome a traumatic experience.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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