Michel Jouvet

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Michel Valentin Marcel Jouvet (born 16 November 1925 in Lons-le-Saunier, Jura, France) is Emeritus Professor of Experimental Medicine at the University of Lyon. He spent one year in the laboratory of the Horace Magoun in Long Beach, California in 1955. Since this date, he undertakes research of Experimental Neurophysiology in the Faculty of Medicine of Lyon and of Clinical Neurophysiology in the Neurological Hospital of Lyon.

Experimental Medicine Professor at the University of LYON 1, he was the Director of the Research Unit INSERM U 52 (Molecular Onirology) and of the Associated Unit UA 1195 of the CNRS (states of vigilance Neurobiology).

He described the electroencephalogram signs of cerebral death in 1959, and in 1961 categorized sleep into two different states: telencephalic (slow wave) sleep and rhombencephalic sleep (paradoxical sleep, known as REM sleep in English-language writings on the subject).

In The Paradox of Sleep (MIT Press, 1999) Jouvet proposed the speculative theory that the purpose of dreaming is a kind of iterative neurological programming that works to preserve an individual's psychological heredity, the basis of personality.

He was elected in 1977 to the French Academy of Sciences and has received the Intra-Sciences Prize in the United States in 1981 and the Prize of the Foundation for the Medical Research in 1983. In 1991 he was awarded the prestigious Prix mondial Cino Del Duca. His works, and those of his team, have brought about the discovery of paradoxical sleep and to its individualisation as the third state of functioning of the brain in 1959, to the discovery of its phylogenesis, of its ontogenesis and its main mechanisms.

Jouvet was the researcher who first developed the analeptic drug Modafinil.

Cat dreams[edit]

In 1959 Michel Jouvet conducted several experiments on cats regarding muscle atonia (paralysis) during REM sleep. Jouvet demonstrated that the generation of REM sleep depends on an intact pontine tegmentum and that REM atonia is due to an inhibition of motor centres in the medulla oblongata. Cats with lesions around the locus coeruleus have less restricted muscle movement during REM sleep, and show a variety of complex behaviours including motor patterns suggesting that they are dreaming of attack, defence and exploration.

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