Do all mammals dream?

TitleDo all mammals dream?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsManger PR, Siegel JM
JournalJ Comp Neurol
Date Published2020 Jan 20

The presence of dreams in human sleep, especially in REM sleep, and the detection of physiologically similar states in mammals has led many to ponder whether animals experience similar sleep mentation. Recent advances in our understanding of the anatomical and physiological correlates of sleep stages, and thus dreaming, allow a better understanding of the possibility of dream mentation in nonhuman mammals. Here, we explore the potential for dream mentation, in both non-REM and REM sleep across mammals. If we take a hard-stance, that dream mentation only occurs during REM sleep, we conclude that it is unlikely that monotremes, cetaceans, and otariid seals while at sea, have the potential to experience dream mentation. Atypical REM sleep in other species, such as African elephants and Arabian oryx, may alter their potential to experience REM dream mentation. Alternatively, evidence that dream mentation occurs during both non-REM and REM sleep, indicates that all mammals have the potential to experience dream mentation. This non-REM dream mentation may be different in the species where non-REM is atypical, such as during unihemispheric sleep in aquatic mammals (cetaceans, sirens, and Otariid seals). In both scenarios, the cetaceans are the least likely mammalian group to experience vivid dream mentation due to the morphophysiological independence of their cerebral hemispheres. The application of techniques revealing dream mentation in humans to other mammals, specifically those that exhibit unusual sleep states, may lead to advances in our understanding of the neural underpinnings of dreams and conscious experiences.

Alternate JournalJ. Comp. Neurol.
PubMed ID31960424
Grant ListHL148574 / / National Research Foundation /