Dreaming with hippocampal damage

Goffredina Spanò, Gloria Pizzamiglio, Cornelia McCormick, Ian A. Clark, Sara De Felice, Thomas D. Miller, Jamie O. Edgin, Clive R. Rosenthal, Eleanor A. Maguire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The hippocampus is linked with both sleep and memory, but there is debate about whether a salient aspect of sleep – dreaming – requires its input. To address this question, we investigated if human patients with focal bilateral hippocampal damage and amnesia engaged in dreaming. We employed a provoked awakening protocol where participants were woken up at various points throughout the night, including during non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement sleep, to report their thoughts in that moment. Despite being roused a similar number of times, dream frequency was reduced in the patients compared to control participants, and the few dreams they reported were less episodic-like in nature and lacked content. These results suggest that hippocampal integrity may be necessary for typical dreaming to occur, and aligns dreaming with other hippocampal-dependent processes such as episodic memory that are central to supporting our mental life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere56211
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
StatePublished - Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


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