Dement & Kleitman

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Background & Aim

  • 3 hypotheses;
  • (1) There will be a significant association between REM sleep and dreaming.
  • (2) There will be a significant positive correlation between the estimate of the duration of dreams and the length of time spent in REM sleep.
  • (3) There will be a significant association between the pattern of eye movement and the context of the dream.
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Method, Procedure and Controls

  • A controlled investigation.
  • 9 participants: 7 adult males and 2 adult females.
  • 5 were studied intensively, while only a small amount of data was collected on the other 4 just to back up the findings.
  • The participants were studies under controlled laboratory conditions, whereby they reported to the lab just before their usual bedtime.
  • They had been asked to eat normally but to avoid caffeine or alcohol on the day of the study.
  • The participants went to bed in a quiet, dark room.
  • An electroencephalograph (EEG) was used to amplify and record the signals of electrodes which were attatched to the participants' eyes to record electrical changes caused by eye movement.
  • 2 or 3 further electrodes were attatched to the scalp to record brain activity which indicated the participant's depth of sleep.
  • At various times during the night (both during REM and NREM sleep) the participants were awakened to test their dream recall.
  • The participants were woken up by a loud doorbell ringing close to their bed.
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Method, Procedure and Controls Continued

  • The participant then had to speak into a tape recorder near the bed.
  • They were instructed to first state whether or not they had been dreaming and then, if they could, to report the content of the dream.
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Hypothesis One:


  • 192 awakenings in total.
  • 153 dream reports.
  • 39 no dream reports.


  • 160 awakenings,
  • 11 dream reports.
  • 149 no dream reports.



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Results (2)

Hypothesis Two

51 Tests - woken after 5 mins REM

  • Correct = 45
  • Incorrect = 6

60 Tests - woken after 15 mins REM

  • Correct = 47
  • Incorrect = 13




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Results (3)

Hypothesis Three

  • There did appear to be some relationship between the dream content and the type of eye movements.
  • For example, periods of pure vertical or horizontal eye movements were rare, but when the participant was woken up after a series of vertical eye movements they reported dreams
  • In the only instance of horizontal eye movements, the dreamer was watching two people throwing tomatoes at each other.









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Conclusions & Implications

  • The research suggests that there is a link between REM sleep and dreaming.
  • This study also supports the idea that dreams can be studied in an objective way, opening up many areas of research.
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