Volunteers were asked to learn the layout of a 3D computer maze so they could find their way within the virtual space several hours later.
Those allowed to take a nap and who also remembered dreaming of the task, found their way to a landmark quicker.
The researchers think the dreams are a sign that unconscious parts of the brain are working hard to process information about the task.
Dr Robert Stickgold of Harvard Medical School, one of the authors of the paper, said dreams may be a marker that the brain is working on the same problem at many levels.
He said: “The dreams might reflect the brain’s attempt to find associations for the memories that could make them more useful in the future.”
Could that mean that worrying before bed serves similarly to install the worries more deeply in your consciousness?
(via bbc news)
If one hypothesis holds true, consciousness can be viewed as a sort of stabilized psychedelic trip.
Several speculative and yet untested hypotheses suggest that endogenous DMT, produced in the human brain, is involved in certain psychological and neurological states. DMT is naturally produced in small amounts in the brain and other tissues of humans and other mammals. Some believe it plays a role in mediating the visual effects of natural dreaming, and also near-death experiences, religious visions and other mystical states. A biochemical mechanism for this was proposed by the medical researcher J. C. Callaway, who suggested in 1988 that DMT might be connected with visual dream phenomena, where brain DMT levels are periodically elevated to induce visual dreaming and possibly other natural states of mind. A new hypothesis proposed is that in addition to being involved in altered states of consciousness, endogenous DMT may be involved in the creation of normal waking states of consciousness. It is proposed that DMT and other endogenous hallucinogens mediate their neurological abilities by acting as neurotransmitters at a sub class of the trace amine receptors; a group of receptors found in the CNS where DMT and other hallucinogens have been shown to have activity. Wallach further proposes that in this way waking consciousness can be thought of as a controlled psychedelic experience. It is when the control of these systems becomes loosened and their behavior no longer correlates with the external world that the altered states arise.
Dr. Rick Strassman, while conducting DMT research in the 1990s at the University of New Mexico, advanced the theory that a massive release of DMT from the pineal gland prior to death or near death was the cause of the near death experience (NDE) phenomenon. Several of his test subjects reported NDE-like audio or visual hallucinations. His explanation for this was the possible lack of panic involved in the clinical setting and possible dosage differences between those administered and those encountered in actual NDE cases. Several subjects also reported contact with ‘other beings’, alien like, insectoid or reptilian in nature, in highly advanced technological environments where the subjects were ‘carried’, ‘probed’, ‘tested’, ‘manipulated’, ‘dismembered’, ‘taught’, ‘loved’ and even ‘raped’ by these ‘beings’. This is most likely due to the setting of where the experiments took place. Many people who use DMT outside of a laboratory never report any of these types of experiences.
Waah! More at wikipedia.
A Japanese research team has revealed it had created a technology that could eventually display on a computer screen what people have on their minds, such as dreams.
Researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories succeeded in processing and displaying images directly from the human brain, they said in a study unveiled ahead of publication in the US magazine Neuron.
While the team for now has managed to reproduce only simple images from the brain, they said the technology could eventually be used to figure out dreams and other secrets inside people’s minds.
According to the philosophy of the book Learning by Heart by Corita Kent (which will soon be republished! get it when it comes out, it’s great!), art is making connections and articulating them in ways previously unexplored or impossible.
So then, when we dream we are practicing this process, uninhibited. Dreams are “a condensation of images and ideas that share certain characteristics – not obviously connected”.
I like this idea very much and I think it’s very true. We dream up some very creative scenarios, so creative that they sound silly when scrutinised by our waking minds, but when we are asleep they are logical progressions from the seed ideas and emotions that begin the dream.
Here’s a damn interesting article from Damn Interesting, about Bonnet visions – hallucinations, named after a man called Charles Bonnet, and had by otherwise-sane, conscious people who are often in the unfortunate situation of slowly going blind. People with these symptoms are known as having Charles Bonnet Syndrome and this article also explores connections between such hallucinations and dreams. Are they result of the same workings of the brain?
Some have suggested that Bonnet visions are the product of the same mechanisms that generate dreams. Clearly the mind is starved of visual input during sleeping periods, so it stands to reason that both dreams and CBS hallucinations may be the result of the same thing: the visual cortex becomes bored due to lack of stimulation, and gratifies itself using stored imagery. This notion is further supported by sensory deprivation experiments, where subjects experience hallucinations when placed in complete darkness for long periods of time. But the explanation fits the problem imperfectly, because dreams include sound and sensations, whereas Bonnet-visions are confined to sight.
Update 9/11/2010: Neurologist Oliver Sacks gives a more informed summary of Charles Bonnet syndrome and its mechanisms in this TED talk.
I often have very cinematic dreams. But last night I had a strange twist on the normal cinematic dream: I was both in the dream, and watching the dream as a movie, from a third person perspective. It was really impressively directed, especially the action sequences.
What I thought was great, upon waking, was that, in the dream, as I watched the “movie” play out before me, I thought “Man. Maybe I should give up all hope of making movies – I’d never be able to come up with anything as good as this”.