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Dreaming is still possible even when the mind is blank

12 September 2013

Isabelle Arnulf and colleagues from the Sleep Disorders Unit at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) have outlined case studies of patients with Auto-Activation Deficit who reported dreams when awakened from REM sleep – even when they demonstrated a mental blank during the daytime. This paper proves that even patients with Auto-Activation Disorder have the ability to dream.

In a new paper for the neurology journal Brain, Arnulf et al compare the dream states of patients with Auto-Activation Deficit (AAD) with those of healthy, control patients. AAD is caused by bilateral damage to the basal ganglia and it is a neuro-physical syndrome characterized by a striking apathy, a lack of spontaneous activation of thought, and a loss of self-driven behaviour. AAD patients must be stimulated by their care-givers in order to take part in everyday tasks like standing up, eating, or drinking. If you were to ask an AAD patient: “what are you thinking?” they would report that they have no thoughts.

Read the press release.
Read the full paper.