TEL AVIV (Jul. 8)
An Israeli neurologist believes he has pin-pointed the part of the human brain that governs the sleep process, a location that has eluded researchers until now and is the subject of considerable controversy in the medical profession.
Dr. Ron Peled of the Rothschild Hospital, who is deputy head of the Haifa Technion Medical School’s sleep research laboratory, concedes it was a matter of chance that brought to him as a patient one of the rare individuals who never dreams — and this led to the discovery.
The patient, a 33-year-old lawyer, sought treatment for what Peled described as a “banal complaint.” During the routine process in which rapid eye movement (REM) is monitored while the patient sleeps, it was found that the man did not dream. The patient confirmed later that he could not remember ever having dreamed.
This is unusual. The REM process, a proven indicator of dreaming, shows that normally all adult humans spend 20-25 percent of their sleeping time dreaming. Further investigation found that this particular patient suffered a skull injury eight years previously which was successfully treated and left no physical disabilities.
But an electronic brain scan disclosed a minute fragment of shrapnel lodged in his brain. Peled and his assistants are convinced that they have found the part of the brain that governs the sleep process, of which dreams are normally a part.
The location is similar to that found in the brains of cats to govern sleep, by means of surgery not possible on humans.