dreams

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dreams

Postby lee s on April 18th, 2016, 10:00 am 

why do people dream? is it just wishes or the mind wondering in limbo. what makes us dream?
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Re: dreams

Postby BadgerJelly on April 18th, 2016, 10:18 am 

It has been shown that part of dreaming allows us to learn what we have been doing when awake and improve our abilities. Think of it like a VR machine. There is also evidence of dreams having some part to play in our coping with stresses and tensions.

Also it is easy to see in your dreams a kind of ordering of memories.

It is certainly a fertile area of study.
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Re: dreams

Postby Eclogite on April 18th, 2016, 12:35 pm 

BadgerJelly » Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:18 pm wrote:It has been shown that part of dreaming allows us to learn what we have been doing when awake and improve our abilities.
I think you will find that ranks as only one hypothesis of many. For example, I understand that several researchers consider dreaming an incidental by-product of REM sleep, which in turn seems to deliver important biochemical benefits.

My interest in this area diminished when I realised the diversities of views and the apparent distance from a consensus model in the reasonably near future. I simply urge caution as to opting for any single explanation.

Random Further Reading:
http://www.philosophie.fb05.uni-mainz.d ... usness.pdf

http://www.unil.ch/files/live/sites/ln/ ... nsuo_1.pdf

Perhaps someone with deeper and more current knowledge on the topic will make a more informative post.
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Re: dreams

Postby ronjanec on April 18th, 2016, 1:46 pm 

Eclogite » Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:35 am wrote:
BadgerJelly » Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:18 pm wrote:It has been shown that part of dreaming allows us to learn what we have been doing when awake and improve our abilities.
I think you will find that ranks as only one hypothesis of many. For example, I understand that several researchers consider dreaming an incidental by-product of REM sleep, which in turn seems to deliver important biochemical benefits.

My interest in this area diminished when I realised the diversities of views and the apparent distance from a consensus model in the reasonably near future. I simply urge caution as to opting for any single explanation.

Random Further Reading:
http://www.philosophie.fb05.uni-mainz.d ... usness.pdf

http://www.unil.ch/files/live/sites/ln/ ... nsuo_1.pdf

Perhaps someone with deeper and more current knowledge on the topic will make a more informative post.


I have always personally wondered about the meaning or actual purpose of our dreams, and the only consensus that I have been able to come up with seems to confirm that this is just a incidental by-product of REM sleep like Eclogite just mentioned here.

There also seems to be no discernible consistent pattern involving dreams from one person to another, so it appears to be very difficult to study this particular subject and make any more sense of all of this.
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Re: dreams

Postby BadgerJelly on April 18th, 2016, 2:16 pm 

Eco -

I think you'll find I did not say it was the only thing dreams are known to do?

Regardless studies have shown that when a person practices a physical activity this activity is replicated in dreams and the person improves their technique. Admittedly this is pure motor function so maybe "learning" was a bad choice of words.

It would be stupid to say dreams have one sole function as it would be to say the brain has one sole function.

Lucid dreaming is am extremely interesting phenomenon. Sadly I am not very good at it. Cannot hold on for very long once I realise I am in a dream. If you wish to know more about dreams keeping a dream journal is one of the most effective ways of inducing lucid dreams and then you can explore them first hand.
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Re: dreams

Postby Eclogite on April 18th, 2016, 2:34 pm 

BadgerJelly » Mon Apr 18, 2016 6:16 pm wrote: If you wish to know more about dreams keeping a dream journal is one of the most effective ways of inducing lucid dreams and then you can explore them first hand.
Yes. I did this half a century ago. One side benefit is that it increases the number and detail of the dreams one can recall.

I occasionally (a handful of times a year) generate solutions to business problems within a dream. Useful, but probably not much different from simply "sleeping on it" and waiting for the solution to pop into ones head in the morning shower.
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Re: dreams

Postby doogles on April 20th, 2016, 7:18 am 

This thread intrigues me because it deals with something that almost every one of us experiences to some extent almost every day of our lives.

And yet not one us so far has actually answered the question asked by lee s “why do people dream? is it just wishes or the mind wondering in limbo. what makes us dream?”


BadgerJelly replied -“It would be stupid to say dreams have one sole function as it would be to say the brain has one sole function.” I agree. ronjanec said “it appears to be very difficult to study this particular subject and make any more sense of all of this “, and Eclogite professed -“My interest in this area diminished when I realised the diversities of views and the apparent distance from a consensus model in the reasonably near future. I simply urge caution as to opting for any single explanation.
All expressed diffidence in explaining why people dream.

I applaud Eclogite for at least supplying a couple of references relating to dreaming. I studied the first one in depth. It dealt with the use of dreaming as a model for understanding multiple aspects of human cognition ranging from understanding standard wake states (consciousness) to understanding psychosis; then analysed the negatives of such models before introducing a concept labelled Contrastive Analysis , for comparing dreaming and standard wake states, dreaming and pathological wake states, and dreaming and altered states of consciousness.

The article did not define or describe sleep-dreaming or discuss why people dream - which was the thrust of this thread. Please regard this negative comment as just relating to that one article on ‘dreaming’.

The intriguing fact that looms large in my mind in this thread is that each of us knows so little about ourselves and about the everyday things we do, and what motivates them.

Nobody has yet defined ‘The mind’s eye or ears or nose or sense of taste or touch’ or researched it, to my knowledge. It’s the very first thing we need to understand when we talk about our ‘imaginations’.

As usual, I’m going to stick my neck out and very briefly state my own working theory on cognition, day-dreaming and sleep-dreaming.

I am an Imagist and an Introspectionist. A stack of literature on mental imaging and daydreaming during the 1960s to 1980s convinced me that I MENTAL-IMAGE CONTINUOUSLY, EXCEPT FOR PERIODS OF NON-REM SLEEP.

I have to make it clear here that when we view a scene of any type, we actually recall that scene AS WE PERCEIVED IT. We do not see words describing it. Our brains are filled with residues of such experiences. Bear in mind that congenitally blind people do NOT dream in visual images. What we store in our brains is a perceptual representation of what we saw, heard, smelled or felt emotionally at that time. I’ll give a reference if anyone wants it, but Perot and Phanor produced evidence to support this in c1968 after 30 years of brain-probing conscious epileptics..

The word ‘Imaging’ here covers picture-imaging such as when we recall a scene of any kind, auditory imaging when we start humming a tune of any kind, olfactory imaging when we recall odours of any kind. Taste and touch also follow, as do affects (emotional responses) associated with such imaging. Who of us is not affected by the thought of picking up handfuls of foul-smelling slime? Such is our ability to mental image!

I have two further points I would like to make.

Firstly, my working theory is that all normal human beings at least, scenario-image subliminally continuously while awake and that we do it so well that we are not conscious that we are doing so. My first realisation was at the age of 49 when a new friend in my life had the mannerism of constantly asking me “What are you thinking?” Seriously considering the question at face value, I realised that I had been having sequences of mental images, with an element in one scenario triggering, by association, a new scenario and so on until one of the scenarios actually related to something in my immediate surroundings or circumstances. In such cases I would say that “I have just had a thought about something or other.” I believe that this is the basis of apparent problem solving when we are ‘in the shower’ or having ‘thoughts about our business concerns’.

You can check this out for yourself if you have a willing accomplice. I’ve mentioned this before in this forum, but to date had no one report that they have taken the challenge. You simply need an accomplice to press a beeper or ask you what you are thinking if they ever see you ‘looking into the middle distance (daydreaming). It’s so simple, but I’ve yet to have anybody report to me that they have tried it.

I can introspectively go back up to seven or eight associated scenarios to explain the images in my mind at the time I’m prompted.

Apologies for the lengthy response, but this somewhat novel working theory has to be explained in order to explain sleep-dreams.

My second point is that when we sleep-dream, our imaging is not co-ordinated. Our houses are sometimes collections of sheds or shacks in paddocks, the persons we visualise do not have names that go with their faces, boats can be travelling on land, and we can levitate when running or jumping. We have NO muscle power in conflicts. Our muscles appear powerless unless we break out of our sleep. You all know the scenarios.

I maintain that the imaging continues during REM sleep, but that a balancing centre in our brains that co-ordinates the associated images is not operating – hence the lack of coordination of images in sleep-dreaming.

There is no purpose, in my opinion. It’s just a continuation of imaging by association with no balance between images.

One could postulate that we have a balancing centre in our brains for the coordination of associated images, and one could also postulate that it is this coordinating or balancing centre that requires ‘time out’ for substrate restoration. I forget the name of a recent poster who postulated that the hippocampus was such a regulator. His arguments were good and he subsequently had the article published. My reasoning suggests that the cerebellum may also need such substrate restoration because of its role in skeletal muscle coordination.

In following the same line of argument, it is now consensual that sleep deprivation results in hallucinations and delirium – a lack of co-ordination – a form of psychosis.

This working theory gives an unproven and untested explanation for ‘thoughts’, sleep and the psychotic nature of dreams. It works for me.

But I would love to hear that someone has even tried the experiment wherein an accomplice has prompted them about their daydreaming. As an afterthought, let me state that if ever you have walked into a room and forgotten what you went in for, then an intervening mental image has extinguished your previous short term memory plan for going into the room. I believe this would classify you as a constant subliminal mental imager.
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Re: dreams

Postby BadgerJelly on April 20th, 2016, 10:15 pm 

There is no purpose?

Then how is it people improve by practicing in dream states. I would say that is one very helpful attribute of dreaming.

Also it is a safe environment for us to explore fears that wouls be otherwise life threatening. Investigations into sleep disorders can shed light on dreams too. I remember watching a program years ago about night terrors. The research seemed to suggest that we all oscillate between horror and happiness in sleep ans that if woken prematurely these mental states would effect our daily life with stress or lack of stress.

Carl Jung did considerable research in this area and also develoed a technique called Active Imagination which has great therapeutic value.

Biochemically I remember reading an article around a year ago which showed that when we sleep our brains are "flushed out" with cerebral fluid. Pretty sure I posted it on this site somewhere?
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Re: dreams

Postby Eclogite on April 21st, 2016, 6:03 am 

BadgerJelly » Thu Apr 21, 2016 2:15 am wrote:There is no purpose?

Then how is it people improve by practicing in dream states. I would say that is one very helpful attribute of dreaming.
Just because I can use an i-phone to hammer a small nail into plasterboard does not mean that is the purpose of an i-phone.
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Re: dreams

Postby BadgerJelly on April 22nd, 2016, 3:34 am 

Well if you wish to be pedeantic so be it. Thete is no purpose to dreaming or brains because they were not designed by us.
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Re: dreams

Postby Eclogite on April 22nd, 2016, 4:15 am 

I intended to make a point that I believe was more than pedantic. I am suggesting that if dreams can be used in the way you suggest that this is a behavioral spandrel in the sense of Gould and Lewontin, rather than a function that evolved through natural selection. i.e its benefits are a chance aspect of other developments that were driven by natural selection.

I think that distinction is an important one. Of course, not all evolutionary biologists would agree, but I am comfortable to sit at the feet of Gould.

The Wikipedia article will serve as an introduction to those new to the concept.
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Re: dreams

Postby BadgerJelly on April 22nd, 2016, 5:36 am 

It is not a question of "IF" they can. A function of dreams, as I have stated, is to improve motor functions. We literally learn how to play football better, play tennis, etc.,. It can be shown that the very same neurons that fire during wakeful consciousness fire during dream consciousness. We practice motor functions in our sleep.

I have not heard of any study indicating that we improve our cognitive ability in such a way that is more open to debate. It doesn't seem to much of a stretch to suggest such a thing but I wouldn't be one to assume such a thing.

I never stated that this is the sole purpose for dreams I just said it is certainly one functional benefit of dreaming.
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Re: dreams

Postby Eclogite on April 22nd, 2016, 6:08 am 

Badger - please don't get defensive. I am not attacking you, simply making some observations related to your points.

I have to insert the qualifying if, since I have not studied the literature to confirm for myself that dreams can and do function in this way. I am not asserting that they cannot, but I equally cannot go on record asserting that they can, if I have not taken any necessary steps to satisfy myself that is the case. I guess that also sounds pedantic :) , but I have an OCD compulsion to operate that way!

I realise you made no claim as to exclusivity of this function for dreaming. I was simply adding some collateral information that is of interest to me and that I felt might be of interest to other readers.

Now, if (there's that if again) dreams do now function in this way, then that aspect of dreaming may become subject also to natural selection.
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Re: dreams

Postby doogles on April 22nd, 2016, 7:13 am 

BadgerJelly » Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:15 pm wrote:There is no purpose?

Then how is it people improve by practicing in dream states. I would say that is one very helpful attribute of dreaming.

Also it is a safe environment for us to explore fears that wouls be otherwise life threatening. Investigations into sleep disorders can shed light on dreams too. I remember watching a program years ago about night terrors. The research seemed to suggest that we all oscillate between horror and happiness in sleep ans that if woken prematurely these mental states would effect our daily life with stress or lack of stress.

Carl Jung did considerable research in this area and also develoed a technique called Active Imagination which has great therapeutic value.

Biochemically I remember reading an article around a year ago which showed that when we sleep our brains are "flushed out" with cerebral fluid. Pretty sure I posted it on this site somewhere?


Thanks for the comments BadgerJelly. Re “Then how is it people improve by practicing in dream states. I would say that is one very helpful attribute of dreaming.” , would you have a reference to such an experiment? I would be very interested in having a close look, in particular as to how they separated the effects of dreaming as distinct from sleep per se, as suggested by that other article you spoke about.

Like you, I vaguely recall seeing an article on flushing of brain fluids during sleep. I just searched Google Scholar and found the following abstract on Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain on the following site - http://science.sciencemag.org/content/342/6156/373 . This is the Abstract of that 2013 research :-
“The conservation of sleep across all animal species suggests that sleep serves a vital function. We here report that sleep has a critical function in ensuring metabolic homeostasis. Using real-time assessments of tetramethylammonium diffusion and two-photon imaging in live mice, we show that natural sleep or anesthesia are associated with a 60% increase in the interstitial space, resulting in a striking increase in convective exchange of cerebrospinal fluid with interstitial fluid. In turn, convective fluxes of interstitial fluid increased the rate of β-amyloid clearance during sleep. Thus, the restorative function of sleep may be a consequence of the enhanced removal of potentially neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the awake central nervous system.”

This article suggests of course that sleep states help renew the metabolic status of brain tissue. The authors’ suggested conclusion is that it removes waste products, but it could also be argued that it allows for restoration of energy substrates within cells (neurons and glial cells).

It supports my working theory that those centres of the brain that coordinate and balance the randomly aroused image residues are the ones that need the ‘time out’ (Hippocampus & Cerebellum???).

It provides an explanation for the necessity of sleep, but unfortunately, not for the ‘purpose’ of dreams.

We appear to be left to our own personal theories on that issue at the moment.

By the way, the reference I gave in my last post should have been Wilbur Penfield and Phanor Perot c1968. They were able to elicit recall of memories in a small percentage of their conscious epileptic patients (during neurosurgical procedures for epilepsy) using micro-electrode stimulation of various areas of the brain. The results suggested, in a small way, that anything we experience in life is stored as an image residue in our brains in the manner in which our senses and emotions interpreted them at the time.

These ‘image residues’ could be regarded as the substance of all of our day-imaging and sleep-imaging, based on the evidence that congenitally-blind people do not have visual dreams.
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Re: dreams

Postby neuro on April 22nd, 2016, 1:27 pm 

Actually, not only there is much debate on why we dream.
These is equally much debate on why we (and all animals) sleep at all.

Certainly recovering some energies is not a sufficient cause for the bad habit of sleeping to be evolutionarily preserved over so many species.

Sleep deprivation studies suggest that SWS (slow-wave sleep, non REM) deprivation interferes with stabilization of semantic memory (facts and episodes), whereas REM sleep deprivation seems to interfere with fixation of psychomotor memory / learning, as Badger was arguing.

It might be of interest to observe that:
1) during awake life, neural circuits converge from all the areas of the cortex on the parahippocampal cortex, and through this into the hippocampus, which is the main structure for experience contextualization as a major means for forming memories
2) these same circuits have to be used to transfer acquired memories from the hippocampus - the particularly plastic circuitry that is used to form memories, but must be continuously freed of them in order to form new ones - to the surrounding cortex, where they can be stabilized into long-term memories
3) it would be good that during part of the day/night cycle we were deprived of sensory input, in order to efficiently use this circuit to transfer memories rather than forming new ones
4) it would be good that cortisol, that interferes with hippocampal function but is needed to maintain alertness during the day, be down at certain times, and it actually goes down at night when we sleep
5) contrary to semantic memory (facts and episodes), psychomotor learning is strongly based on the capability of producing appropriate reactions to external stimuli
6) in order to fix such kind of memories during sleep, it would be important that we be able to reproduce the relevant sensory inputs by activating higher associative sensory areas in the cortex the same way as they are activated during awake experience
7) we cannot reproduce the internal experience of seeing a scene if we do not move our eyes to explore the scene and get back the corresponding information from the proprioceptive pathways that tell us where are we looking
8) the most important aspect in this experience is that we must be able to switch off the systems in our brain that discern whether what is occurring in our higher associative sensory areas is originated by a sensory input or by internal production (imagination)
9) this implies that during REM sleep (and in general during sleep) we have to switch off the systems of "judgment of reality" - mostly those serotonergic systems that are interfered, for example, by hallucinogenic drugs (which make us confound imagination and reality)
10) in confirmation of this, just consider how smoothly you accept the most unlikely events in dreams
11) switching off reality judgment may actually help us solve some problems that during the day we weren't able to solve because we stick too strictly to reality, logics and our mental habits

All this to say that we do not know why we dream. We do not even know why we sleep.
But there are a number of reasons why by being able to sleep - and to dream - we are much better off.
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