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Core Studies



Dr. William Dement at his sleep laboratory at Stanford University




This great picture is of Nathaniel Kleitman serving as a subject in one of his own sleep experiments.



Here is a copy of the original study.


Here are some comprehension questions


Home > Physiological > The Dement and Kleitman Page

The Dement and Kleitman Page

Dement, W. & Kleitman, N. (1957) The relation of eye movements during sleep to dream activity: An objective method for the study of dreaming. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 53, 339-46

On this page you should find lots of useful stuff to help you in your learning of the dreaming study.

Here is the most important page. Click here for a summary and evaluation of the Dement and Kleitman (1957) study.

This page has lots of Core Studies Section A past questions that you might want to practice. Please don?t email me for the answers.

Here is a multichoice quiz and a cloze quiz to test your knowledge of the study.

Some video clips that may be useful can be found here - more to come.

And here is a great page on Jamie?s psychblog where you can read the original study and more.



Below is a much briefer summary of the Dement and Kleitman 1957 study.

The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between eye movements and dreaming.

The study had three hypotheses:

1. There will be a significant association between REM sleep and dreaming.

2. There will be a significant positive correlation between the estimate of the duration of dreams and the length of eye-movement

3. There will be a significant association between the pattern of eye movement and the context of the dream

The nine participants were seven adult males and two adult females. Five were studied intensively, while only a small amount of data was collected on the other four just to back up the findings of the main five.

The participants were studied under controlled laboratory conditions, whereby they reported to the laboratory just before their usual bedtime. They had been asked to eat normally but to avoid caffeine or alcohol on the day of the study. The participants went to bed in a quiet, dark room.

An electroencephalograph (EEG) was used to amplify and record the signals of electrodes which were attached to the participants face and scalp. Two or more electrodes were attached near to the participants? eyes to record electrical changes caused by eye movement. Two or three further electrodes were attached to the scalp to record brain activity which indicated the participants? depth of sleep.

At various times during the night (both during REM and N-REM sleep) the participants were awakened to test their dream recall. The participants were woken up by a loud doorbell ringing close to their bed. The participant then had to speak into a tape recorder near the bed. They were instructed to first state whether or not they had been dreaming and then, if they could, to report the content of the dream.

Results relating to hypothesis 1 (there will be a significant association between REM sleep and dreaming)

The results show that REM sleep is predominantly, though not exclusively, associated with dreaming, and N-REM sleep is associated with periods of non-dreaming sleep.

Nearly all dream recall in N-REM awakenings occurred within eight minutes of an REM, suggesting that the dream might have been remembered from the previous REM

Results relating to hypothesis 2 (there will be a significant positive correlation between the estimate of the duration of dreams and the length of eye-movement)

The series of awakenings which were carried out to see if the participants could accurately estimate the length of their dreams revealed that all the participants were able to choose the correct dream duration fairly accurately, except for one participant who could only recall the latter part of the dream and so underestimated its length.

Results relating to hypothesis 3 (there will be a significant association between the pattern of eye movement and the context of the dream)

There did appear to be some relationship between the dream content and the type of eye movements. For example, periods of pure vertical or horizontal eye movements were rare, but when the participant was woken up after a series of vertical eye movements they reported dreams such as:

* standing at the bottom of a cliff operating a hoist, and looking up at the climbers, and down at the hoist machinery.

* climbing up a series of ladders looking up and down as he climbed.

* throwing basketballs at a net, first shooting and looking up at the net, and then looking down to pick another ball off the floor.

In the only instance of horizontal eye movements, the dreamer was watching two people throwing tomatoes at each other.