Sleep-dependent memory processing and EMDR action


The unique efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder is thought to result from changes in the brain/mind state induced by bilateral sensory stimulation, but the nature and specifi c consequences of these changes remain unknown. The possibility that bilateral stimulation induces a brain/mind state similar to that of rapid eye movement sleep is supported by studies showing that sleep facilitates forms of memory processing arguably necessary for the resolution of trauma. Such studies, along with direct studies of the impact of bilateral stimulation on memory and emotional processing, and dismantling studies identifying the requisite features of such bilateral stimulation for effective trauma processing, will eventually lead to an understanding of the neurobiological basis of EMDR.






Robert Stickgold

Original Work Citation

Stickgold, R. (2008). Sleep-dependent memory processing and EMDR action. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 2(4), 289-299. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.2.4.289



“Sleep-dependent memory processing and EMDR action,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed February 25, 2021,

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