[Paleopsych] NYT: Do Babies Dream?
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Fri Dec 2 02:54:38 UTC 2005
Do Babies Dream?
Q & A
By C. CLAIBORNE RAY
Q. Do babies dream?
A. "Yes, as far as we can tell," said Dr. Charles P. Pollak, director
of the Center for Sleep Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell
hospital in New York.
Most dreaming occurs during a type of sleep called REM sleep, for
rapid eye movement, which Dr. Pollak explains is "an evolutionarily
old type of sleep that occurs at all life stages, including infancy,
and even before infancy, in fetal life."
There is no question that newborn infants have REM sleep, he said, and
the rapid eye movements can be observed as they sleep. The two eyes
move together, mostly side to side, but sometimes up and down.
It is a well-based inference that babies are dreaming in REM sleep, he
As for the content of any dreams, Dr. Pollak said: "That is like
asking whether your pet dog or cat is dreaming, because they can't
communicate, and you can't ask. We presume that infants dream
infantile things, but we don't really know what it is that they
"There is some evidence in adults that the direction of eye movement
corresponds in a crude way to the content of the dream," Dr. Pollak
"If they are dreaming about walking in a field," he said, "the
movement is most likely horizontal. If they dream of looking up at a
building or climbing stairs, vertical eye movement is more likely to
predominate. We can't go further than that."
Readers are invited to submit questions by mail to Question, Science
Times, The New York Times, 229 West 43rd Street, New York, N.Y.
10036-3959, or by e-mail to question at nytimes.com.
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