Near-total absence of REM sleep co-occurring with normal cognition: an update of the 1984 paper

Efrat Magidov, Hanna Hayat, Omer Sharon, Fani Andelman, Shlomit Katzav, Peretz Lavie, Riva Tauman, Yuval Nir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: REM sleep (REMS) is considered vital for supporting well-being and normal cognition. However, it remains unclear if and how decreases in REMS impair cognitive abilities. Rare case studies of patients with REMS abolishment due to pontine lesions remain sporadic, and formal evaluation of cognitive status is lacking. In 1984, Lavie and colleagues described the case of Y.C. – a man with a pontine lesion and near-total absence of REMS who led a normal life. Here, we set out to re-evaluate this individual's REMS status 30 years after the original report, and formally assess his cognitive abilities. Methods: Four whole-night polysomnographic sleep recordings were conducted to evaluate sleep architecture. Sleep scoring was performed according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) guidelines. Cranial Computed Tomography (CT) imaging was performed, as well as formal neuropsychological testing to evaluate cognitive functions. Results: Y.C. averaged 4.5% of sleep time in REMS, corresponding to the 0.055 percentile of normal values for his age. Furthermore, residual REMS episodes were short and only occurred towards the end of the night. CT imaging revealed damage and metallic fragments in pons, cerebellum, and thalamus. Neuropsychological evaluation demonstrated average to high-average cognitive skills, normal memory, and motor difficulties including speech and left hand dyspraxia. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the only case where REMS loss resulting from pontine lesion was re-evaluated after many years. We find a near-total absence of REMS with no signs of significant compensation throughout adult life, along with normal cognitive status. The results provide a unique perspective on the ongoing debate regarding the functional role of REMS in supporting cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-137
Number of pages4
JournalSleep Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Near-total absence of REM sleep co-occurring with normal cognition: an update of the 1984 paper'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this