The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream

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Second, the attentional networks tamp down, including the vigilant salience network that is always poised to send "red alerts. It's very harmonious," said Domhoff. When the default network is free to roam, that's when we dream. Humans spend 20 to 30 percent of their waking hours in this mind-drifting state, said Domhoff. Neurophysiologically, it's the same process that occurs during sleep, when sleep-inducing neurochemicals provide an additional boost.

Awake or asleep, as the default network ascends, the power of the brain's imagery network transitions us from mind wandering to what researchers call "embodied simulation," during which vivid imagery can make dreamers feel a part of the action.


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Sometimes you can just feel it. The sense of being an embodied participant is what distinguishes dreaming from other forms of thought. During sleep, brain activation fluctuates up and down throughout the night.


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  6. Arousal increases as morning approaches, and so does mind wandering or dreaming, according to numerous laboratory studies. Dreams are highly personal because the default network includes a big part of the "self network," added Domhoff. More than 70 percent of dreams are personal—typically dramatized enactments of significant personal concerns about the past, present, and future.

    The frequency of a given topic reflects the intensity of that concern in the dreamer's life, said Domhoff.

    The Mind at Night: The New Science of how and why We Dream - Andrea Rock - Google книги

    Studies show that children don't dream often or with much complexity until they reach the ages of , said Domhoff, noting that some apparent nightmares in young children happen during "sleep terrors" that aren't dreams, or during awakening. Domhoff began studying dreams as a graduate student with his mentor Calvin Hall, a pioneering dream researcher.

    For many years, he conducted quantitative studies of dream content. Stepping away from the day-to-day obligations of teaching and campus service at the age of 57 freed him to focus his full attention to dreams. Today, Domhoff's hope is that his neurocognitive theory will be seen as "one piece of the puzzle of any really good theory of the mind. I want this to be the dream piece.

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    While previous studies have already indicated that people are more likely to remember their dreams when woken directly after REM sleep, the current study explains why. Those participants who exhibited more low frequency theta waves in the frontal lobes were also more likely to remember their dreams. This finding is interesting because the increased frontal theta activity the researchers observed looks just like the successful encoding and retrieval of autobiographical memories seen while we are awake. That is, it is the same electrical oscillations in the frontal cortex that make the recollection of episodic memories e.

    Thus, these findings suggest that the neurophysiological mechanisms that we employ while dreaming and recalling dreams are the same as when we construct and retrieve memories while we are awake. In another recent study conducted by the same research team, the authors used the latest MRI techniques to investigate the relation between dreaming and the role of deep-brain structures. In their study, the researchers found that vivid, bizarre and emotionally intense dreams the dreams that people usually remember are linked to parts of the amygdala and hippocampus. While the amygdala plays a primary role in the processing and memory of emotional reactions, the hippocampus has been implicated in important memory functions, such as the consolidation of information from short-term to long-term memory.

    Scientists have also recently identified where dreaming is likely to occur in the brain. However, it was not until a few years ago that a patient reported to have lost her ability to dream while having virtually no other permanent neurological symptoms. The patient suffered a lesion in a part of the brain known as the right inferior lingual gyrus located in the visual cortex. Thus, we know that dreams are generated in, or transmitted through this particular area of the brain, which is associated with visual processing, emotion and visual memories.

    Taken together, these recent findings tell an important story about the underlying mechanism and possible purpose of dreaming.

    Why do we dream?

    Dreams seem to help us process emotions by encoding and constructing memories of them. What we see and experience in our dreams might not necessarily be real, but the emotions attached to these experiences certainly are. Our dream stories essentially try to strip the emotion out of a certain experience by creating a memory of it.

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    We'll talk about how you can try to control your dreams -- both what you're dreaming about and what you do once you're having the dream. We'll also find out what dream experts say particular scenarios signify. Finding yourself at work naked may not mean at all what you think it does! For centuries, we've tried to figure out just why our brains play these nightly shows for us. Early civilizations thought dream worlds were real, physical worlds that they could enter only from their dream state.

    Researchers continue to toss around many theories about dreaming. Those theories essentially fall into two categories:.



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