Serotonin Theory of Dreaming (LSD infusion)
By Torda C
New York State Journal of Medicine, 1968

Reviewed by Alex Pearlstein

The consistency and magnitude of the decrease of the latency of REM (rapid eye movement) and dream incidence by LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) infusion warrant the assumption of a relationship between intracellular LSD increase (LSD has been shown to induce a serotonin-like reaction from the human brain), and REM or dream incidence. A psychophysiologic mechanism capable of inducing dreams and hallucinations is described. It is concluded that paradoxical sleep is the physiologic manifestation of the interplay of a nonrepinephrine-dependent process fostering arousal and a serotonin dependent process promoting sleep.

The focus of this study was the increased signs of what is considered to be "Dream Time," as opposed to overall sleep time after introducing LSD into a subject. The state of dreaming is ascertained by things like serotonin levels and rapid eye movement but these are not mutually exclusive to Dreaming. Because of the complexities of these types of studies, humans are the only viable test subjects.

LSD was administered intravenously to patients at the beginning of their sleep cycle. During the fourth REM cycle test subjects were awakened and asked "What is on your mind right now?" The same was done 30 minutes after the 5th REM cycle to learn more about non-REM sleep periods. The responses were taped and reviewed by two impartial judges. The results showed that LSD sleep cycles reduced the latency of the next REM period and dreaming to ten to nineteen minutes instead of the usual forty to sixty minutes.

One of the conclusions drawn from this study is that the assumed connection between dreams, hallucinations, and memory storage and retrieval processes is further substantiated by LSD hallucinations being heavily loaded with old memories. The chemical makeup of the brain during dreaming states and hallucination states were compared and showed many similar qualities. The changes present in the brain during these LSD infused sleep cycles showed more changes in theta waves during the sleep times as well as inversed synaptic activity in specific areas. This study also puts forth the beginnings of understanding that there is a relationship between LSD and it's interaction with the retina and possibly the rest of the visual system, and the increase in memory retrieval during Hallucinations and Dreaming. It also identifies the interaction between hallucinations and increased memory retrieval activity.

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