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Sleep And Dreaming

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Who’s up for a brief discussion of the sleep process? Although I’ve studied dreams and dreaming for more than three decades and have blogged and published on the nature and evolution of the dreaming brain, I consider myself merely well informed rather than expert on the topic. However, based on the most recent and available peer-reviewed research, I will be making some definitive statements about the nature of sleep and dreaming that you may find compelling, if not informative. First, let’s explore why we sleep and dispel some misconceptions about why we dream and remain immobile while dreaming.

Definitively, sleep and dreaming primarily serves the metabolic demands of our active brain and any mental benefit we experience after a cycle of sleep and dreaming is merely a byproduct of the metabolic processes our brain engages amid the sleep process--which includes dreaming. Sleep is a neurological imperative caused by the extracellular accumulation of adenosine, a hypnogenic molecule, in the brain. Adenosine accumulates as the brain metabolizes its primary source of energy, the sugar adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Adenosine build-up triggers a cascade of neural effects that induce the initial stage of sleep, non-REM (NREM). As NREM progresses, adenosine, beta amyloids (a peptide), and other extracellular waste are flushed from the brain via a hydraulic or convection system of waste removal dubbed the glymphatic system. Thus NREM, the initial stage of sleep, clears our brain of potential toxins, which prepares our brain for wakeful activity.

The wakeful activity our brain normally engages after NREM is dreaming (REM). Dreaming is another way of describing those episodes of increased activity our sleeping brain experiences relative to its NREM sleep stages. Again, we dream to serve our brain’s metabolic demands and serving those demands enhances our mental acuity and overall brain function. Research shows that the sleep process increases the level of glycogen in the brain. Glycogen is the reserve form of the ATP and oxygen our brain stores to meet the emergent energy demands of conscious activity not immediately supplied or satisfied through normal cerebral blood flow. At the end of each cycle of NREM, our brain activates to resupply its glycogen reserves. That activation increases blood flow to those brain areas with depleted glycogen reserves. REM is the neural effect of our brain acting to regenerate its reserve energy supply. The imagery and content of our dreams are how our brain synthesizes the lingering neural affects that this energy storage process causes. With its toxins removed and energy reserves resupplied, our brain functions better and is prepared for full arousal to consciousness.

Finally, we remain immobile while dreaming as a consequence of NREM rather than REM. Our lack of mobility while dreaming (atonia) initiates to serve the metabolic needs of the body at rest. Atonia is the inelastic state of muscle tone that our body experiences during the dreaming stages of sleep. This aspect of our muscle posture is mediated by neural structures below those associated dream production. It was the nineteenth century Nobel Laureate, Sir Charles Sherrington, who first observed how his low-decerebrate research animals would collapse into an atonic muscle posture when they were continually left undisturbed or unfed. Sir Sherrington was investigating the reflexive system of his test animals through the successive removal of brain structure. In 1963, the French sleep researcher Dr. Michel Jouvet, described this tonic-to-atonic cycle of behavior in his test animals as evidence of the “rhomencephalic phase of sleep.” If our brain retains evidence of its evolution path, then where atonia’s mediation arises--relative to other sleep components in brain structure--suggests that in its earliest incarnation atonia evolved between cycles of active survival behaviors where energy expense was minimal or unnecessary. During contemporary sleep, atonia punctuates the final stage of each cycle of NREM, which is the most passive, inactive state of normal brain function relative to dreaming and conscious brain function. We remain immobile while dreaming because our immobility conserves energy. Our brain is the largest consumer of our body’s energy uptake and our immobility amid sleep supports our dreaming brain’s efforts to resupply its energy reserves.

It has been a while since my last visit to this forum and my perspective has evolved. I welcome your critique of my comment and your thoughts as to whether any of this suggests dream content is meaningful. I suggest that it probably does.

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I welcome your critique of my comment and your thoughts as to whether any of this suggests dream content is meaningful. I suggest that it probably does.

I am not equipped to comment on the technical content of your post. However, I seek clarification. If your description of the various sleep processes are accurate, then this would seem to me to argue for the non-significance of dream content. What is the logic sequence that leads you to see this as evidence for meaningful content?

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On the surface, it may appear that dream imagery and content are merely activation conduits or props for metabolic purposes; like our brain is creating some perceptual scenario to activate. However, that activation is created by an energy reserve void or vacuum rather than some focal sensory perception or event our brain creates after NREM. Dream imagery and content is how our brain interprets the lingering perceptual affects of the energy voids or vacuums it detects and seeks to fill. What might make these interpretations meaningful is that they designate the focal area or aspect of conscious activity relative to those brain areas and functions that activity has depleted of its reserves; i.e., dream imagery tells us what conscious area or aspect of our mental activity has siphoned our brain's energy reserve. For example, if we dream about some recently learned task, it is because learning that task has depleted the energy reserves of those brain structures and function associated with that task's mental assimilation. Dreaming about recently learned tasks restores the energy reserves of those brain structures associated with assimilating those tasks. The question this appears to raise is whether this holds true for all types of dream content, particularly precognitive types. Again, I believe it does. I welcome your continued interest.

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Hmmm ... "energy" and precognition. So we are no longer discussing science?

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If I may inquire, did any of you read my initial post? If you had, you would have understood that my reference to "energy" regards glycogen, which is the form in which our brain stores adenosine triphosphate and oxygen--that is science and fact. I think you misunderstood my reference to precognition as leading away from the scientifically proven or provable. Although precognition has been the subject of several scientific studies, that was not the focus or intent of my discussion. The intent of my initial comments was to explore the neural phenomena of the sleep process and dispel certain misconceptions using peer-reviewed neuroscience. My follow-up comments--obviously resulting in the prematurely placement of this topic as speculation--was to offer one possible explanation in neuroscience for an extraordinary phenomena believed to frequently arise from the dreaming state of brain function. The question of whether precognition exist is like asking whether there's such a thing as coincidence. In fact, coincidences do occur and there are reasonable explanations as to why they might occur relative to dream content and experience. What I was offering for discussion was neural research that this topic's moderator was, obviously, either not knowledgeable of or comfortable discussing as science. Nothing I've ever posted to this discussion board was ever about speculation or anything other than what could be scientifically proven or provable to the satisfaction of fair minded individuals. It has become increasingly clear to me that some prefer to remain ignorant of the science for fear of crossing some boundary of science faith--Science forbid that some extraordinary product of brain function be proven scientifically probable. I welcome your thoughts.


I was informed that some citations are in order. I rely on many reference sources to produce my comments and I have a habit of waiting for certain citation requests as a sign of sincere interest-- which isn't always true for this topic. Here is one of many articles I've referenced about the nature of glycogen. Here is another article. Regarding adenosine, adenosine triphosphate, and the glymphatic system. There are multiple additional sources available that I've referenced, should you or this topics moderator require further.

Edited by DrmDoc

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to me, dreams are a series of still pictures, the initial one establishing the premise of the movie, and the next frame is an analysis of the previous, expressed as a conclusion or step to a conclusion of the premise. In this manner a dream goes on till some resolve is achieved to the satisfaction of the awareness, aimed towards the original premise, not so much the intervening steps...Sometimes one of the intervening step satisfies the original premise sufficiently that the awareness considers the original premise essentially resolved. At this point a review of the dream (double dream) sometimes happens if there is enough time left in the REM state.

Edited by hoola

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If I may inquire, did any of you read my initial post? If you had, you would have understood that my reference to "energy" regards glycogen, which is the form in which our brain stores adenosine triphosphate and oxygen--that is science and fact.

Yes, I read it and specifically stated that "I am not equipped to comment on the technical content of your post". Therefore you make an unwarranted leap to conclude that having read it I would have understood the reference to glycogen.

 

I am interested in the conclusions you arrive at based upon the facts you present. If, later, it becomes apparent that the details of those fact are essential to debating your conclusions I shall revisit the facts, or retire from the discussion. That point has not yet been reached.

 

The intent of my initial comments was to explore the neural phenomena of the sleep process and dispel certain misconceptions using peer-reviewed neuroscience.

Somehow I have missed which misconceptions you were dispelling. Would you briefly identify them now.

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to me, dreams are a series of still pictures, the initial one establishing the premise of the movie, and the next frame is an analysis of the previous, expressed as a conclusion or step to a conclusion of the premise. In this manner a dream goes on till some resolve is achieved to the satisfaction of the awareness, aimed towards the original premise, not so much the intervening steps...Sometimes one of the intervening step satisfies the original premise sufficiently that the awareness considers the original premise essentially resolved. At this point a review of the dream (double dream) sometimes happens if there is enough time left in the REM state.

 

 

Hello hoola,

Do you believe, as some might, that the content of your dreams define their purpose? If so, are you suggesting that dreams are meaningful? I believe they are but not for the reasons most researchers have concluded. I welcome your continued interest.

 

Yes, I read it and specifically stated that "I am not equipped to comment on the technical content of your post". Therefore you make an unwarranted leap to conclude that having read it I would have understood the reference to glycogen.

 

 

Hello Ophiolite,

My apologies; that part of my post was a response to Strange’s comments. Indeed, I am painfully aware of how many respondents are likely not equipped to comment on this topic, which so many do not consider science. It was my mistake assuming all would understand that my use of terms would remain consistent with their initial introduction relative to established neuroscience. Again, my apologies.

 

I am interested in the conclusions you arrive at based upon the facts you present. If, later, it becomes apparent that the details of those fact are essential to debating your conclusions I shall revisit the facts, or retire from the discussion. That point has not yet been reached.

 

 

Fair and reasonable; I’m surprised and delighted given the relocation of this discussion.

 

Somehow I have missed which misconceptions you were dispelling. Would you briefly identify them now.

 

 

The first misconception regards why we sleep and particularly why we dream. I probably should have preference my initial definitive statement with comments regarding multiple studies supporting mental acuity recovery and memory consolidation as primary reasons for sleep and, particularly, dreaming--they are misconceptions. The neuroscience shows that sleep and dreaming occur for metabolic reasons rather than data sorting, assimilation, or elimination. Our brain works better when it is not in metabolic distress; our brain sleeps (NREM) to more efficiently remove metabolic waste (glymphatic system) and dreams to restore its metabolic reserves (glycogen). Succinctly, the sleep process regards brain health rather than mental health.

 

My final comments regarded the misconception of why we remain immobile while dreaming (atonia). The popular notion that we experience muscle atonia to remain motionless while dreaming is based on the idea that this muscle posture evolved to prevent movement that might cause injury amid sleep. I described how research of this sleep phenomenon by Sir Sherrington and Dr. Jouvet showed that atonia persist without the brain structures associated with dreaming, which suggests that it did not evolve to serve the dream state but rather the metabolic needs of the body at rest. We don’t remain immobile while dreaming to keep from acting-out dream content. Sleepwalking is a prime example of that fact.

 

It's clear that some may be unfamiliar with the neuroscience; however, that lack of familiarly or interest doesn't excuse the prejudice in labeling this discussion as speculative. The links I provided prove that it is not. As individuals of fair mind and reason, we should know that science and scientific discussion is not conducive to an environment of ignorance and bias, which is why I think this topic was moved from its original location. I welcome your thoughts and I hope mine have been informative.

Edited by DrmDoc

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drm doc, I believe (most of) my dreams are continuations of the running dialogue over a question I am pondering upon entering dreams state, of the positive or negative issues facing me of things I am doing, or have considered doing. I see them as a survival strategy in dealing with realities and theoreticals. Another rarer type of dream in the "nightmarish" category, seems to place me in situations that I am uncomfortable, not allow a resolve, and force me to deal with my inadequacies. There is a flip side to this that has me interacting with possible tricky life situations, and I manage to deftly manage a series of "tests". I have these dreams only a few times a year, and wake up feeling especially good, thinking my overall path in life is the right choice. Lastly, there are the erotic ones, which seem occur a few times a month surrounding a specific theme. I have two of three of these dream clusters per year.

Edited by hoola

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drm doc, I believe (most of) my dreams are continuations of the running dialogue over a question I am pondering upon entering dreams state, of the positive or negative issues facing me of things I am doing, or have considered doing. I see them as a survival strategy in dealing with realities and theoreticals. Another rarer type of dream in the "nightmarish" category, seems to place me in situations that I am uncomfortable, not allow a resolve, and force me to deal with my inadequacies. There is a flip side to this that has me interacting with possible tricky life situations, and I manage to deftly manage a series of "tests". I have these dreams only a few times a year, and wake up feeling especially good, feeling my overall path in life is the right choice. Lastly, there are the erotic ones, which seem occur a few times a month surrounding a specific theme. I have two of three of these dream clusters per year.

 

 

There’s a popular theory suggesting that dreaming evolved and persists as a preparatory means for potential survival threats and pivotal social experiences. The idea is that dreaming gave our evolving ancestors a means to simulate potential encounters without incurring irrevocable consequences. This 2005 study appears to support this dream-for-survival theory. Do you think it likely that some dream simulations have precisely presaged a real survival or social consequence or outcome? For example, Abraham Lincoln’s dream? Although I’m not sure that Lincoln’s dream is a unique experience for a sitting wartime president under continual threat, I think such dreams can occur. However, I disagree with why they likely occur. I also disagree with the popular notion that some dreams are merely outlets for our frustrations and unconscious desires. Freud might suggest that your erotic dreams satisfy your unconscious desires. I disagree with Freud and the survival theory because the neuroscience and evolution points to our metabolic needs as the primary source of brain behavior. When we sleep, our brain doesn’t activate to dream; it activates to serve a metabolic need. Sleep and dreaming comprises the recovery processes our brain engages as I have previously described. Dream imagery tells us something about the neural influences compelling those recovery processes.

 

I applaud your bravery in risking your intellectual reputation to engage a topic of profound psychological, neurological and, generally, scientific value that the shamefully unstudied considers speculative. I welcome your thoughts and continued interest.

Edited by DrmDoc

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Not an expert on sleep, but my understanding of the dreaming process is that it occurs primarily during REM sleep, when muscles go into a state of atony except for the eyes. The rapid eye movements may be indicative of the dreaming process. NREM is part of the sleep cycle where brain wave frequency gradually slows from alpha to theta to delta. This cycle is then repeated until the person wakes up.

Edited by Xalatan

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I find this thread fascinating since I've always been interested in dream and sleep and pay a great deal of attention to it at each stage (that I can). I've never really studied the physiology so this certainly has my attention as well.

 

I believe most dreams have a very simple causation; random neuron firings. These occur throughout the brain and this random "signal" is partially processed by the brain which is or affects dreaming. One of the deepest stages of sleep in which the speech centers are asleep is when we solve our everyday life's problems and questions. While we no longer have access to the ancient language in which we used to think the wiring of the brain that gave rise to this language is certainly still intact and effectively "thinks" in the absence of language. Many questions are much more easily appreciated and appraised from this perspective that some would call "instinct". It is from this perspective that people communicated and thought until "modern" times (4000 years).

 

What drives the process of sleep is an interesting study but it's quite apparent to the "user" that different parts of the brain sleep at different times and shut down sequentially.

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The first misconception regards why we sleep and particularly why we dream. I probably should have preference my initial definitive statement with comments regarding multiple studies supporting mental acuity recovery and memory consolidation as primary reasons for sleep and, particularly, dreaming--they are misconceptions. The neuroscience shows that sleep and dreaming occur for metabolic reasons rather than data sorting, assimilation, or elimination. Our brain works better when it is not in metabolic distress; our brain sleeps (NREM) to more efficiently remove metabolic waste (glymphatic system) and dreams to restore its metabolic reserves (glycogen). Succinctly, the sleep process regards brain health rather than mental health.

Those are interesting observations. In my own case I've noticed that I can remember more clearly the way someone had briefly looked at me 10 years ago when I was awake than I can remember the content of my previous night's dream.

I'm 67 years of age and also wonder if age effects the way that the brain sorts and assimilates information, compared to when one is younger.

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Still dreamin, still dreamin, Dream your life away... and let the sun take a holiday A rarer category of dreams seem to allow the awareness to escape from the limitations of physical self...to merge with and interact with other conscious beings on an sentience to sentience basis. I have had a few dreams in that category. Usually they involve listening to music with a few others, and the music ascends through my human limitation to understand it, yet still somehow remembered, as a logical extension of what I know, with the listening group awarenesses merging on the other side of that musical "event horizon". As far as "official" daydreaming goes..when I was a kid I was an avid SWL listener. The weird, complicated chaotic droning sound of the loran ADF system was on loud and clear at several locations on the SW dial, and a real favorite to sit and trance out on alpha waves with. I would enter a very enjoyable waking dream state, and at the early age of 4 and 5 believed it was martians communicating with me directly....funny, huh?....I was pretty let-down about 6 when I discovered out it wasn't really martians, and had given up on sustaining the illusion that is could be martians by the age of 12 or so. Some of the early trances lasted for quite some time and got pretty involved with what seemed at the time as information sharing...real questions of logical substance in the first half, followed by answers at the last, and I would wake up after the last resolve. The problem was interruptions....I had only a few SWL daydreams that were complete. Usually the dog barked or some common thing like that would interrupt me. Today I remember them as very delicate states, and the interruptions as a "breaking entanglement" of sorts ...I group together these two types, the loran induced childhood daydreams and the adult escape dreams, as they feel similar in structure to me, and leave a similar emotional state when coming out, or waking up from...they both engendered me to feel my existence as being "worth all the trouble"...and therefore accept totally that fact that I am stuck in a physical body, which part of my consciousness seems to rebel against. The feeling of total acceptance would fade as that rebel re-establishes itself, back to a normal day-to-day partial acceptance, that other people seem to have. Some other categories, such as waking up mentally, but the body is frozen is very unpleasant, and I have to struggle to move my body. Only if I can move any part, which takes a huge force of will to do, can I get out of this trap, so I group them with nightmares. I have never tried a sensory deprivation tank, but imagine the experience is somewhat similar. The rarest type (once around 6)) was a dream that continued on, even though I had "woken up"....and as long as I didn't open my eyes, the dream continued, outside my will to control, like watching a movie. I laid there watching the dream for a minute or so, then I carefully opened my right eye just a little, and the movie vanished.

Edited by hoola

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The rarest type (once around 6)) was a dream that continued on, even though I had "woken up"....and as long as I didn't open my eyes, the dream continued, outside my will to control, like watching a movie. I laid there watching the dream for a minute or so, then I carefully opened my right eye just a little, and the movie vanished.

 

 

I had a similar experience when I was young. I had been awake a long time and was somewhat bemused when a dream started playing right in my field of vision as I was driving. It kept trying to take my attention from the road ahead though. Ironically I traded off driving responsibilities and my partner almost immediately drove off the road.

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that amusing....I see that as somewhat of what long hauls have triggered in me, when I am in the last 50 miles of a 600 mile nonstop......part of my mind thinks it already is home in bed and turns on dreamstate. A very dangerous thing indeed. I have to slap myself around a little when my visual field has a frame or two of a dream, like a pop up ad, flash every few minutes, as the will to keep the state suppressed runs out of steam, or glucose, as the case may be. The willpower to push the X button to rid the ad is taxing, like lifting a leaden finger to do it in real life. In the driving experience, the pop up takes over the visual field, not just a strip. Once I thought I noticed some normal visual, in narrow horizontal bands at the top and bottom of the pop-up...

Edited by hoola

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I believe most dreams have a very simple causation; random neuron firings. These occur throughout the brain and this random "signal" is partially processed by the brain which is or affects dreaming. One of the deepest stages of sleep in which the speech centers are asleep is when we solve our everyday life's problems and questions. While we no longer have access to the ancient language in which we used to think the wiring of the brain that gave rise to this language is certainly still intact and effectively "thinks" in the absence of language. Many questions are much more easily appreciated and appraised from this perspective that some would call "instinct". It is from this perspective that people communicated and thought until "modern" times (4000 years).

 

Hello cladking,

Here an interesting link, which attempts to explain the idea of “’thinks’ in the absence of language”. This link will take you to a YouTube video providing an introduction to the Corollary Discharge Theorem, which provide one explanation in neuroscience for our inner voice.

 

What drives the process of sleep is an interesting study but it's quite apparent to the "user" that different parts of the brain sleep at different times and shut down sequentially.

 

Although our sensory awareness is limited amid sleep, there really isn’t a state of normal brain function when its parts cease function even in sleep. Incredibly, some brain areas become more active in sleep than they are amid our conscious state..

 

Those are interesting observations. In my own case I've noticed that I can remember more clearly the way someone had briefly looked at me 10 years ago when I was awake than I can remember the content of my previous night's dream.

I'm 67 years of age and also wonder if age effects the way that the brain sorts and assimilates information, compared to when one is younger.

 

Hello Bill Angel,

Our animal ancestors evolved memory concurrent with experiences that had a real physical/material impact on their survival. Dreams are not real experiences, which is something our dreaming brain is able to detect. We do not remember our dreams easily because their content is incongruent with the real sensory experiences of our body at rest.

 

Not an expert on sleep, but my understanding of the dreaming process is that it occurs primarily during REM sleep, when muscles go into a state of atony except for the eyes. The rapid eye movements may be indicative of the dreaming process. NREM is part of the sleep cycle where brain wave frequency gradually slows from alpha to theta to delta. This cycle is then repeated until the person wakes up.

 

Hello Xalatan,

REM (rapid-eye-movement) stage of sleep is indeed believed to be stage where dreaming occurs. However, the most important stage of the sleep process neurologically is Non-REM when, as I mention initially, our brain evacuates extracellular waste (glymphatic system). Think of it as kind of a neural shower flushing away the byproducts of the nutrients our active brain consumes.

 

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts.

Edited by DrmDoc

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After consulting with a very patient and responsive forum moderator, I was informed that providing actual evidence in brain study would be more supportive of my claims on the existence of evidence supporting the meaningful nature of dream content. To that end, I have provided an abstract of this article, Neuropsychology of Dreaming, which concludes that the “'meaninful'” picture-metaphors’” of dream content incorporate many of the “active centers in the frontal regions” of the brain:

 

“The unique state of the brain in REM sleep, when our more vivid dreams occur, appears to be involved in emotional processing and connecting new material with old material in memory systems, revealing these connections in the form of often personally “meaningful” picture-metaphors. The complex of active centers in the frontal regions may also provide the cognitive capability for not only managing emotion but also psychological restoral, conflict resolution and adaptive learning. Dreams can be observed to incorporate many of the waking state functions of these active centers, including initiating and mediating a resolution by creating and testing imagined scenarios, providing compensating cues to influence the action, and emotionally reinforcing scenarios which meet the anticipated outcome.”

 

Presented in a way that is, perhaps, more amenable than my delivery, the researcher William G. Domhoff has provided these scholarly works exploring the neurophysiological substrates to dream content and meaning: http://psycnet.apa.org/books/10463/001 and http://psycnet.apa.org/books/10463/.

 

The first link’s abstract is straightforward: The neurocognitive model of dreaming and dreams proposed in this chapter has three basic components. First, the neurophysiological substrate underlies and activates the process of dreaming. Second, the conceptual system of schemata and scripts generates the process of dreaming. Third, dream content results from this cognitive process. This chapter discusses each of these components and suggests some of the specific ways in which they may relate to each other.”

 

The second abstract link discusses “a new neurocognitive model of dreams that draws from empirical research to explain the process of dreaming and the nature of dream content.”

 

Interesting still, the author of this Frontiers In Psychology article proposes that the progressive refinement of our understanding of dream consciousness could foster significant advances for neuroscience and psychiatry as a whole.” This isn’t particularly about the contribution of neuroscience to dream content meaning but more about understanding how the dreaming state of consciousness contributes to neuroscience.

 

Finally, on the issue of whether dream content and its discussion have any value in science, I offer the Dream-For-Survival/Threat Simulation Theory and this 2005 study that support its predictions. In retrospect, I could have been clearer about the discussion I had hoped to engage. I wanted to talk about whether dream content is meaningful in how it reflects the neural restorative processes occurring in the brain during sleep. For example, if dreaming is about restoring glycogen levels in the brain, does specific imagery signify the specific areas or aspect of the brain serviced by this process? I assure you that this is indeed a discussion and not a lecture no matter my phasing. Also, there is some evidence showing that dreams can prepare us for future survival related events. Does this sufficiently explain dreams that seem to precisely presage those events? I welcome your thoughts.

Edited by DrmDoc

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I should like to oblige you by engaging in the focus of discussion you hoped this thread would follow. Unfortunately the underlying function of dreams interest me much less than their practical utility. I find them of value in three ways:

1. They are often very entertaining.

2. They sometimes provide me with insight into situations that have been causing me concern, but that I have not consciously recognised.

3. They sometimes provide me with useful, practical ideas for work related matters.

 

If any of these areas seems to you relevant to the focus you are seeking I can respond to any points you make, or questions you ask.

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3. They sometimes provide me with useful, practical ideas for work related matters.

 

 

Are you certain of this? Can you actually identify the specific dream and specific sequence that provides such practical answers?

 

I remember my REM dreams pretty well but don't remember the stage IV dreams at all.

 

I use this mechanism to solve problems extensively and don't recall any help from any dream I can remember. Of course the remembered dreams are very helpful in understanding what's been going on and what the problems are but I'm not so sure they are a source of problem resolution.

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I should like to oblige you by engaging in the focus of discussion you hoped this thread would follow. Unfortunately the underlying function of dreams interest me much less than their practical utility. I find them of value in three ways:

1. They are often very entertaining.

2. They sometimes provide me with insight into situations that have been causing me concern, but that I have not consciously recognised.

3. They sometimes provide me with useful, practical ideas for work related matters.

 

If any of these areas seems to you relevant to the focus you are seeking I can respond to any points you make, or questions you ask.

Dreams can be an extraordinary source of reliable insight, which is why I am also interested in their practical utility. One of my interests have regarded how to reliably recreate those dream types that consistently demonstrate some verifiably real physical/material value. For all my study, I've found that very few do. Therefore, I've explored the neuroscience to get some real sense of what is happening in the brain when we dream and how that distinction enables the type of insights I seek. The neuroscience suggests that dreaming is restorative, so the question for me has been what mental gymnastics must I engage during the day to consistently trigger those restorative processes that will produce the dream types I mentioned? Effective techniques for producing specific dream types are plentiful but are mostly placebo in nature and lose their effectiveness quickly. Interestingly, I've never considered the placebo effect in my study of the brain. I welcome you insight on subject and continued interest.

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...so the question for me has been what mental gymnastics must I engage during the day to consistently trigger those restorative processes that will produce the dream types I mentioned?

 

I've found the most effective way is to simply program the mind for the question that you want it to solve. There's a tendency to solve only one question per night and to solve the biggest one you have even if you want it to do something else. I just try to let the question be the last thing I think at night before drifting off. Some questions are insoluble with the knowledge you have at hand so you need to develop a "feel" for when you've gotten enough information.

 

People say I do my best work when I'm unconscious. I hope this is what they mean.

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This research could also be of interest:

 

Triggering sleep slow waves by transcranial magnetic stimulation (or TMS).

 

 

TMS triggering of slow waves reveals intrinsic bistability in thalamocortical networks during non-rapid eye movement sleep. Moreover, evoked slow waves lead to a deepening of sleep and to an increase in EEG slow-wave activity (0.5-4.5 Hz), which is thought to play a role in brain restoration and memory consolidation.

And from this same paper:

 

The alternation of up- and down-states in cortical neurons is thought to be involved in memory consolidation, synaptic homeostasis, and the restorative function of sleep, so the ability to trigger slow waves reliably could have important applications.

See

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17483481

Edited by Bill Angel

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I've found the most effective way is to simply program the mind for the question that you want it to solve. There's a tendency to solve only one question per night and to solve the biggest one you have even if you want it to do something else. I just try to let the question be the last thing I think at night before drifting off. Some questions are insoluble with the knowledge you have at hand so you need to develop a "feel" for when you've gotten enough information.

 

People say I do my best work when I'm unconscious. I hope this is what they mean.

 

My efforts in all this have been to pressed beyond the boundaries of conscious thought and plumb our unconscious well of potential insight and information. Indeed, it is the programming that eludes me and I have studied nearly all of them. Some methods worked initially but quickly lose efficacy. I think this has to do with the placebo effect of belief, which produces a desired results. I think that for lasting, consistent results, our brain actually has to work on the issue while fully active to exhaust those brain regions associated with the results we seek. During the restorative processes of sleep, those exhausted region will activate to restore its energy (glycogen) and thus produce our desired dream results. However, this may also result in the placebo effect of believing that this approach could work. Thank you for your insight.

 

This research could also be of interest:

 

Triggering sleep slow waves by transcranial magnetic stimulation (or TMS).

 

 

 

And from this same paper:

 

See

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17483481

 

Thank you for the link; I am very familiar with TMS. I agree with its statements regarding the benefits of slow-wave. When we combine this insight with what we now know about the glymphatic system I previously referenced in this thread, I think we understand a little better why slow-wave sleep is so important. Did you know that our brain actually shrinks during the slow-wave, Non-REM phase of sleep? That shrinkage, which is part of the glymphatic process, seems counterintuitive to the stability and synaptic growth we expect from the sleep process but is essential to preparing our brain for wakeful activation. Thank you again for your insight and continued interest.

Edited by DrmDoc

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Is there any evidence, apart from what I expect may be anecdotal reports, of communication among humans (by some sort of telepathic or esp type method) during sleep? I know this sort of communication while awake has been studied without (I think) any consensus conclusions. I have had what I believe to be that type of experience, getting some information and/or insight while asleep, resulting in problem solving.

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