Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Rapid Eye Movements and Remembering


SOME theorists have ignored the content of dreams and concentrated specifically on chemical or physiological aspects1. Oswald2 has postulated that rapid eye movement (REM)3 sleep is a non-specific indication of many forms of synthesis within cerebral neurones, and that periods of massive learning would cause high percentages of REM sleep. Others have explained both dream content and REM state as playing a part in information processing. Some have used computer analogies, suggesting that reorganization takes place during the REM state, involving revision arid updating of cognitive processes and memories4. It is known that remembering involves distortion and conventionalization5, so REM-induced reorganization should also show “effort after meaning”.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Dement, W., Amer. J. Psychiat., 122, 404 (1965); Snyder, F., ibid., 123, 121 (1966); Jouvet, M., Science, 163, 32 (1969).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Oswald, I., Nature, 223, 893 (1969).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Dement, W., and Kleitman, N., Electroenceph. Clin. Neurophys., 9, 673 (1957).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Newman, E. A., and Evans, C. P., Nature, 206, 534 (1965); Gaarder, K., Arch. Gen. Psych., 14, 253 (1966); Hawkins, D. R., Brit. J. Med. Psychol., 39, 85 (1966); Dewan, E. M., Psychophysiology, 4, 365 (1967); ibid., 5, 203 (1968).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Bartlett, F. C., Remembering (Cambridge University Press, 1932).

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Jenkins, J. C., and Dallenbach, K. M., Amer. J. Psychol., 35, 605 (1924); Van Ormer, E. B., Arch. Psychol., 21, 1 (1932); Newman, E. B., Amer. J. Psychol., 52, 65 (1939); Lovatt, D. J., and Warr, P. B., ibid., 81, 253 (1968).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Rechtschaffen, A., and Kales, A. (eds.), A Manual of Standardised Terminology, Techniques and Scoring System for Sleep Stages of Human Subjects (US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1968).

  8. 8

    Clarke, P. R. F., et al., Brit. J. Anaesth. (in the press).

  9. 9

    Miller, G. A., Isard, S., J. Verb. Learn. Verb. Behav., 2, 217 (1963).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Horowitz, M. W., and Berkowitz, A., Percept. Mot. Skills, 24, 207 (1967).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Puff, C. R., J. Verb. Learn. Verb Behav., 5, 503 (1966).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

EMPSON, J., CLARKE, P. Rapid Eye Movements and Remembering. Nature 227, 287–288 (1970).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing