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Kroker, Kenton,1969-
From reflex to rhythm :sleep, dreaming, and the discovery of rapid eye movement, 1870-1960.
Ph. D. -- University of Toronto, 2000
Ottawa :National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada,[2001]
4 microfiches
Includes bibliographical references.
Rapid movement (REM) is a phenomenon of sleep easily visible to the naked eye of a careful observer. Yet it was not discovered until 1953. Why did it take so long for this phenomenon to come under scientific scrutiny? From 1870 to 1960, disciplinary, institutional and instrumental factors transformed the cognitive basis of sleep research. Once a passive and reflexive response to fatigue, sleep emerged as a self-regulating biological rhythm. As an objective sign of dreaming, REM encapsulated this concept of "activated" sleep. Modern sleep research emerged from a number of nineteenth-century clinical and physiological problems, including insomnia, hypnotism and fatigue. Around 1900, Sigmund Freud, Henri Bergson, and Edouard Claparède introduced a biological perspective, describing sleep and dreaming as functions, not effects. Henri Piéron used the method of "enforced wakefulness" to develop a concept of sleep as both fatigue and rhythm. During the 1920s, Nathaniel Kleitman adopted a similar method in his research at the University of Chicago, where REM was later discovered. Medical and technological developments during the 1920s and 1930s had a great impact on the study of sleep. Epidemics of encephalitis lethargica, or "sleeping sickness," turned sleep into a highly visible object of neurophysiological research. Constantin von Economo linked its symptoms to a damaged "sleep centre" in the brain, reinforcing the idea that sleep was an active function. Vacuum-tube amplification created the electroencephalogram, which inscribed sleep as brain activity. This period also witnessed the creation of departments of "neuropsychiatry" across the U.S. Such interdisciplinary and holistic approaches to biomedical research bound together psychological and physiological concepts with clinical practice and instrumental performances. The discovery of "sleep stages" at the Tuxedo Park laboratories of Alfred Lee Loomis in 1937--a crucial event in the story of REM--was made possible only through such interdisciplinary, technologically-driven efforts. Cognitive goals of American neurophysiologists and neuropsychologists were realigned from the 1930s into the immediate postwar period. Freudian psychoanalysis turned dreaming into a central problem for sleep researchers, who hoped to unify body and mind through an analysis of the rhythms of REM.