Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 1474–1485 | Cite as

Brain structural basis of individual variability in dream recall frequency

  • Shuqin Zhou
  • Jing Xu
  • Zihui Su
  • Yuezhen Li
  • Yan Shao
  • Hongqiang Sun
  • Huaiqiu Zhu
  • Qihong ZouEmail author
  • Jia-Hong GaoEmail author
Original Research


Recent neuroimaging studies have indicated that inter-individual variability in dream recall frequency (DRF) is associated with both resting-state regional cerebral blood flow and task-induced brain activations. However, the brain structure underpinning this inter-individual variability in DRF remains unclear. The aim of the current study is to investigate the relationship between brain structural characteristics and DRF. We collected both T1-weighted and diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging data from 43 healthy volunteers. DRF was obtained from a two-week sleep diary with a subjective report of dream recall upon waking every morning. General linear model analysis was used to evaluate the relationship between brain structural characteristics (cortical volume and white matter integrity) and DRF. Not only the cortical volume of the medial portion of the right fusiform gyrus and parahippocampal gyrus but also the fractional anisotropy of white matter fibers connected to these regions were significantly negatively correlated with DRF, and these relationships were not modulated by a regular sleep. These findings provide direct evidence that brain structural characteristics are associated with inter-individual variability in DRF and may help us to better understand the structural mechanisms in the brain underlying dream recall.


Dream recall frequency Magnetic resonance imaging Cortical volume White matter tractography 



This work was supported by National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC0108900, 2017YFC0108901), China’s National Strategic Basic Research Program (“973”) grant (2015CB856400), National Natural Science Foundation of China (81871427, 81671765, 81430037, 81727808, 81790650, 81790651, 81571297 and 31421003), Beijing Municipal Natural Science Foundation (7172121), Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission (Z161100002616006 and Z171100000117012), Shenzhen Peacock Plan (KQTD2015033016104926), Guangdong Pearl River Talents Plan Innovative and Entrepreneurial Team (2016ZT06S220), Shenzhen Science and Technology Research Funding Program (JCYJ20170412164413575). We thank National Center for Protein Sciences at Peking University in Beijing, China, for assistance with MRI data acquisition and data analyses.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuqin Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jing Xu
    • 1
    • 3
  • Zihui Su
    • 1
    • 3
  • Yuezhen Li
    • 4
    • 5
  • Yan Shao
    • 4
    • 5
  • Hongqiang Sun
    • 4
    • 5
  • Huaiqiu Zhu
    • 2
  • Qihong Zou
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jia-Hong Gao
    • 1
    • 3
    • 6
    • 7
    Email author
  1. 1.Center for MRI Research, Academy for Advanced Interdisciplinary StudiesPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of EngineeringPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Beijing City Key Lab for Medical Physics and Engineering, Institution of Heavy Ion Physics, School of PhysicsPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Peking University Sixth Hospital (Institute of Mental Health)BeijingChina
  5. 5.National Clinical Research Center for Mental Disorders & Key Laboratory of Mental HealthMinistry of Health (Peking University)BeijingChina
  6. 6.McGovern Institute for Brain ResearchPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  7. 7.Shenzhen Institute of NeuroscienceShenzhenChina

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