Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have concluded interesting research recently. They have found an exceptional signal from the noise that uniquely defines dreaming or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This will make it easier to diagnose people with sleep disorders. This will also help in cases of comatose patients and those under the effect of anesthesia.
The brain is full of activity even when we sleep, and the noise is similar to when we are awake. The study highlights the first (electroencephalogram) EEG measure of REM sleep. Scientists studied the brain wave activity of hundreds of participants in this study. It is not possible to determine the state of dreaming by EEGs alone, so REM sleep has to be analyzed for better results.
“We now have a metric that precisely tells you when you are in REM sleep. It is a universal metric of being unconscious,” said Robert Knight, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, UC Berkeley.
This novel measure calculates the relationship of brain motion at varied regularities. It measures activity at frequencies from about 1 cycle per second to 50 cycles per second. It also governs the slope, that is, how fast the range drops. This 1/f “drop-off” is more noticeable in REM sleep than in the state of wakefulness, or when placed under anesthesia.
These new discoveries show that concealed in the electrical inertia of the human brain, there is something singular — a simple signature. Matthew Walker, sleep researcher, UC Berkeley, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience said, “And if we measure that simple electrical signature, for the first time, we can determine exactly what state of consciousness someone is experiencing — dreaming, wakefulness, anesthetized or in deep sleep.”
This new capacity to distinguish REM sleep using an EEG will prove to be helpful in a lot of ways. It will permit doctors to monitor people under anesthesia during surgery. It will also enable us to discover how drug-induced unconsciousness is different from normal sleep patterns — a question that still demands many answers. That’s the primary reason that author Janna Lendner, a medical resident in anaesthesiology, introduced the study.