Investigation on neurobiological mechanisms of dreaming in the new decade

Serena Scarpelli, Valentina Alfonsi, Maurizio Gorgoni, Anna Maria Giannini, Luigi De Gennaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dream research has advanced significantly over the last twenty years, thanks to the new applications of neuroimaging and electrophysiological techniques. Many findings pointed out that mental activity during sleep and wakefulness shared similar neural bases. On the other side, recent studies have highlighted that dream experience is promoted by significant brain activation, characterized by reduced low frequencies and increased rapid frequencies. Additionally, several studies confirmed that the posterior parietal area and prefrontal cortex are responsible for dream experience. Further, early results revealed that dreaming might be manipulated by sensory stimulations that would provoke the incorporation of specific cues into the dream scenario. Recently, transcranial stimulation techniques have been applied to modulate the level of consciousness during sleep, supporting previous findings and adding new information about neural correlates of dream recall. Overall, although multiple studies suggest that both the continuity and activation hypotheses provide a growing understanding of neural processes underlying dreaming, several issues are still unsolved. The impact of state-/trait-like variables, the influence of circadian and homeostatic factors, and the examination of parasomnia-like events to access dream contents are all opened issues deserving further deepening in future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number220
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Activation
  • Brain stimulation
  • Continuity
  • Dream recall
  • EEG
  • Neuroimaging
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Investigation on neurobiological mechanisms of dreaming in the new decade'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this