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Neuroscience and Society Series: Sleep and Dreaming

1200 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC

Wake up, I'm Speaking: The Neuroscience of Sleep and Dreaming

It seems that everybody, from comedians, to poets, to world leaders, have something to say about sleep. So why not scientists? Sleep, or the lack of it, is the focus of considerable research in the United States, where sleep disorders and sleep deprivation have been associated with poor cognitive performance, behavioral problems, accidents, ill health and other factors that adversely affect quality of life. When we do sleep, we also dream; in fact, during a typical lifetime, people spend an average of six years dreaming. In the past, dreams have been interpreted as omens of the future, representations of reality, and even divine messages from the gods. Nowadays, we tend to have slightly more rational views about dreams, but their significance and meaning remain a subject of debate in both science and public discourse. Speakers will address what neuroscience research tells us about sleep, sleep disorders, the mechanisms and functions of dreaming, and the impact of sleep research on medicine and society.


Deirdre Leigh Barrett, Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School

Deirdre Barrett is a psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. She is past President of both the International Association for the Study of Dreams and The Society for Psychological Hypnosis. Dr. Barrett has written four books including The Committee of Sleep: How Artists, Scientists and Athletes Use their Dreams for Creative Problem Solving - and How you Can Too. She is the editor of four additional books including The New Science of Dreaming and Trauma and Dreams. She is Editor-in-Chief of DREAMING: The Journal of the Association for the Study of Dreams. Dr. Barrett has published dozens of academic articles and chapters on dreams, hypnosis, and imagery. Her own articles have appeared in Psychology Today and Scientific American. 

Clifford B. Saper, M.D., Ph.D.
James Jackson Putnam Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience
Harvard Medical School

Clifford Saper is the James Jackson Putnam Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience and Chairman of the Harvard Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He served on the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine from 1981-1985 and moved to the University of Chicago from 1985-1992. He received a Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the NIH, and was named one of the 100 most frequently cited neuroscientists by the Institute for Scientific Information. Dr. Saper was elected to the Institute of Medicine, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Royal College of Physicians (London). Dr. Saper’s research has explored circuitry of the brain that controls basic functions such as wake-sleep cycles, feeding, and immune response, and how these circuits are disrupted in neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, in sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea, and during aging. 

Michael J. Twery, Ph.D.
Director, National Center on Sleep Disorders Research
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH

Michael Twery is the director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) Division of Lung Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Twery has led the NIH’s sleep and respiratory neurobiology scientific research group since 1996, and has served as director of the NCSDR since January 2006. In these roles, Dr. Twery oversees the support of research and research training related to sleep disordered breathing, the fundamental functions of sleep and circadian rhythms, and sleep disorder epidemiology and clinical trials. Prior to joining the NHLBI, Dr. Twery was a member of the research faculty at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, and for six years was a senior staff fellow at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

When and where?
March 11, 2014
5:30 p.m.
AAAS Auditorium
1200 New York Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Additional Resources
Video Recording
Dana Foundation Blog
Science Update: Sleep Disorders
Science Update: Dreaming

About the Series
The Neuroscience and Society series is a partnership between AAAS and the Dana Foundation. Learn more.