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Dreams

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Dreams have long been the topic, of philosophical, religious and scientific discussion, but What are dreams? Where do they come from? and could they mean anything? Neuroscientific research is finally starting to unravel some of these questions So far it seems that dreams are a fusion of waking experience and imagination An idea suggested by both Aristotle and Freud before formal scientific research began. In one experiment, participants were asked to write detailed diaries about their waking life, dreams and emotional concerns These reports were then compared by judges who found that although direct life reoccurences only happened in 1-2% of dreams, around 65% showed aspects of every day life Memory, is a primary function of sleep A brain area called the 'hippocampus' is an essential memory storage structure And controlled access of this, seems to depend on prefrontal systems. However, although the hippocampus is acitve during dream sleep These prefrontal areas have reduced activity This may explain why a direct rerun of waking life is limited as direct memory access is restricted Could there be a specific memory function in this decoupling of brain activity? Well, in a maze task, participants who napped after learning improved against those who stayed awake, to be expected. However interestingly, the most improved performance was in those who dreamed specifically about the maze These dreams, were not direct reruns, and instead incorporated the maze and personal experiences Could this suggest that dreams have a role in novel memory connection? Well, whether the maze dreaming participants had a better memory to start with is still unclear. But this novel integration theory related to other aspects of dreaming, as well. Creativity, is the innovation to create something original and dreams may fuel this process Anecdotal examples of this include the periodic table which finally came to scientist Dmitri Mandeleev in a dream after endlessly trying to create a format in his waking life. Thomas Eddison actively tried to achieve this heightened creative state He would nap frequently throughout the day, and hold lightly onto an object above a metal plate, so that the sound of it dropping from his hand would wake him up just as he drifted off; where he deemed creativity to be at it's best Creative individuals have been found to have lengthier and more abstract dreams however, the direction of this correlation is unclear Sleep stages consist of non rapid eye movement, or NREM and rapid eye movement, or REM which is where dreaming mainly occurs by placing electrodes across the scalp, and hooking individuals up to a machine called an electroencephalogram, the brain waves can be examined, and scientists can determine which sleep stage someone is in In a word association task, participants who were woken up from dream sleep gave much more novel, or distant connections than when woken up from NREM sleep or when awake, this could suggest that a process of novel information integration occurs during this stage, fuelling a creative process Why might this be important? Well, researchers are speculating a function in language as it has been found that adults learning another language have higher levels of REM sleep, and infants spend up to 25% more time in this stage. This makes sense, as language often lacks straightforward rules, and is often abstract Although research is in early stages, it could have important implications. Making sure you don't get jet lagged before showing off your french skills, might be one of them Around 45% of emotional concerns resurface in dreams In dream sleep, emotional centres in the brain such as the amygdala and cingulate cortex are active, conversely, an anxiety triggering neurotransmitter called noradrenaline is deactivated. This has led some researchers to the idea of dreaming as overnight therapy This poses, that through dreaming, emotional concerns can be reprocessed without the anxiety, and so the negative tone of memories and concerns can be reduced. Research has shown that in PTSD sufferers who experience traumatic dreams reducing noradrenaline with a drug called prazoin can regulate their sleep and lead to a reduction in nightmares. Similarly in one study, lengthy dream reports were taken from individuals showing signs of depression Individuals who had regular dreams about their emotional turmoil were more likely to have recovered a year later than those who did not. So, the neuroscience of dreams, they seem to be information integrators fuelling creativity, memory, and even acting as overnight therapy Hopefully future research will paint a clearer picture However, dreams will always be a surreality and will remain in that sense, at least somewhat, a mystery

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Duration: 4 minutes and 1 second
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Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Views: 4
Posted by: bonbonbiscuit on May 2, 2018

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