About this event

  • Date and time Tue 23 Oct 2018 from 9:00am to 4:30pm
  • Location Royal Society of Medicine
  • Organised by Sleep Medicine

The biology of dream sleep was first described in 1953 and yet dreams, and dream sleep remain a mysterious state. We know that we all dream and must dream during brain development, and REM sleep has a role in memory processing. But it is only recently that the latest advances in functional imaging have started to provide overarching theories for why we might need to dream.

Greater understanding of the pathophysiology of dream sleep disorders including nightmares, REM sleep behaviour disorder and narcolepsy have led to increasingly effective therapies for many patients.

Throughout history, literature and art, dreams have assumed a special significance beyond the scientific. Many have used hallucinogenic drugs over the years to induce a dream like state. Therefore the role of dreams and the dream state within art and literature will also be explored.

This one day conference will include speakers from neurology, psychiatry, experts in functional imaging but also artists who explore sleep and dreams within society.

The current understanding of REM sleep and REM sleep disorders, novel insights within functional brain imaging, the treatment of depression using dream inducing psychedelic drugs and the impact of sleep and dreams in art and literature will be covered.

Topics include:

  • The biology of REM sleep and the current theories for it’s role in brain development and memory
  • A review of the potential relevance of hallucinogenic drugs in treatment of conditions such as depression
  • REM sleep disorders including nightmare disorder and REM sleep behaviour disorder
  • The cultural and social relevance of dreaming through art and literature

Key speakers

Professor Karl Friston FMedSci FRS

Wellcome Principal Research Fellow and Scientific Director, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging

Professor Friston is a world famous neuroscientist and one the UK and worlds most cited academics. Professor Friston is a theoretical neuroscientist and authority on brain imaging. He invented statistical parametric mapping (SPM), voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and dynamic causal modelling (DCM). 

Professor Friston has received a Golden Brain Award from the Minerva Foundation in 2003, and the Weldon Memorial Prize in 2013.

Speaker's biography

Although Karl Friston trained in psychiatry, his revolutionary impact on studies of the brain derives from his inventive use of probability theory to analyse neural imaging data. He invented a technique, statistical parametric mapping or SPM, that is now used universally to look for correspondences in brain activity as measured by magnetic resonance imaging.

He then invented voxel-based morphometry, a sensitive method of measuring the volume of brain structures — one application demonstrated the increased volume of a region underlying spatial memory in London taxi drivers. Karl’s dynamic causal modelling is used to estimate how different cortical regions of the brain influence one another.

Karl’s suggestion that the minimisation of surprise can explain many aspects of action and perception informs his continuing efforts to integrate imaging data with other measures such as electroencephalography. He received a Golden Brain Award from the Minerva Foundation in 2003, and the Weldon Memorial Prize in 2013.

Christopher Timmermann

Neuroscientist, Imperial College London

Christopher Timmermann obtained a BSc in Psychology in Santiago, Chile and a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Bologna in Italy. He is currently completing a PhD in Imperial College London, leading a project focusing on the effects of DMT in the brain and consciousness. He is interested in the use of methods bridging the relationship between phenomenology and changes in brain activity by studying the effects of psychedelic compounds in human participants.

Dr Paul Reading

Consultant Neurologist and Sleep Specialist, Regional Sleep Service, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough

Dr Paul Reading graduated in 1987, undertaking his training at Cambridge, London, Edinburgh and Newcastle. He completed a PhD in the behavioural assessment of embryonic neural grafts in models of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.

Currently based at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, Dr Paul Reading has developed an academic and clinical interest in sleep medicine and is a past president of the British Sleep Society. His interests include narcolepsy, abnormal sleep in neurodegenerative disease (particularly parkinsonian syndromes) and parasomnias.

Speaker's biography

SpecialityNeurology

Telephone01642 850850 ext. 55758

Appointed5 September 2005

Special interests

  • Sleep medicine

Training

  • Graduated 1986
  • Cambridge, London, Edinburgh, Newcastle

 

Susan Aldworth 'the dark self'

"The Dark Self is a major new body of work by Susan Aldworth exploring the experience of sleep. A highly original artist renowned for her work on the human brain, Aldworth here challenges us to reflect upon our nightly transitions from consciousness to oblivion."

The Dark Self project was funded by Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity (GSTTC) to investigate the different treatment journeys from primary to secondary care of patients with sleep disorders. Susan Aldworth's work from the collection will be featured at this event. 

Agenda

View the programme

Session one

Registration, tea and coffee
Introduction and welcome to the day

Dr Kirstie Anderson, Consultant Neurologist and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Newcastle Regional Sleep Service Freeman Hospital and Susan Aldworth, Artist

The biology of REM sleep - how we dream

Dr Paul Reading, Consultant Neurologist and Sleep Specialist, Regional Sleep Service, James Cook University Hospital, Middleborough

To sleep, perchance to scream: 50 years of REM sleep behaviour disorder

Dr Kirstie Anderson, Consultant Neurologist and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Newcastle Regional Sleep Service Freeman Hospital

Session two

Tea and coffee break
Psychedelic phenomenology and associated brain activity as a model for dreaming

Dr Christopher Timmermann, Psychedelic Research Group, Imperial College London

Lunch
Nightmares - causes and cures

Dr Laura Madeley, Consultant Clinical Psychologist Guy's and St Thomas' Sleep Centre, London

Plenary lecture: REM sleep and dreaming – a functional account

Professor Karl Friston, Wellcome Principal Research Fellow and Scientific Director, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging

Session three

Tea and coffee break
Sleep and dreaming in literature

Mr Henry Nicholls, Science Teacher, Woolwich Polytechnic School, Journalist and Author of Sleepyhead: Narcolepsy, Neuroscience and the Search for a Good Night

Question and answers

All speakers

Student sleep essay prize presentation
Close of meeting

Location

Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole St, Marylebone, London, W1G 0AE, United Kingdom