January 8, 2010

CHAPTER I - 1.2 How are Dreams Formed?

1.2 How are Dreams Formed?

According to a review: "Investigators since Freud have appreciated that memories of the people, places, activities and emotions of daily life are reflected in dreams but are typically so fragmented that their predictability is nil."(1) 

Dreams are basically reflections of our daily lives, and most of the sources of dreams are simply from the memory. However, knowing that dreams are reflections of our lives does not explain why we dream at all. Now, sleep and dream researchers have got the answer. "We dream because our brains are activated during sleep, and we do so even if our primitive drives are turned on by that activation."(2) They found that there are several areas of the brain which are selectively active in sleep, and that it happens to everyone except those who have got sleeping disorder, so it is believed that almost all of us dream with approximately the same frequency. Even those who rarely recall their dreams report having dreams if awakened during dream stage.

According to Dr. Allan Hobson, during asleep we probably on average dream four to five times per night. There are two stages of sleep, they are rapid eye movement REM sleep(*i) and non rapid eye movement NREM  sleep(*ii). In the former stage, it is when dreams occur. Most of the sensation of our brain are activated, especially the vision, emotion and motion center, that explains why we see images, we have feelings and we have lots of actions in dreams. "Because the visual image production system of the brain is selectively activated in sleep!", Allan Hobson says, "To explain their intensity (compared with waking), we might expect to find that parts of the brain that generate emotions and related percepts are selectively activated in sleep."(2) The reason why this stage named as REM sleep, it is simply because of the association of the activation of the eye movements with activation of the brain as just mentioned.

In the latter stage, the non rapid eye movement NREM sleep, it is considered as a dreamless stage. Most of the sensations of our brain are deactivated, therefore dreams are not so frequently occurred during this stage of sleep.(2) 

To make the words easily to be understood, basically, when we start sleeping, "our consciousness is dramatically reduced during sleep, and that it is natural to assume that the brain simply turned off and turned on again just before awakening", says Dr. Alan Hobson. But in fact, there is still brain activation in sleep. In general, during REM, some areas of the brain are selectively activated, the visual area, which causes us to see in our dream; the area which generates emotion, which causes intensity that we feel much more vivid in dream compared with waking life; and the motion area, which causes us to have lots of waking-like behaviors, but of course we don't really move, because "our muscles are actively inhibited"(2) .Thus it helps us to understand why we often awaken feeling paralysed in our dreams.

"British researcher Mark Solms found that the areas of the brain that are active in dreaming are ones associated with visual imagery and emotional, metaphoric thinking, while those associated with some fine points of logic are quiet."(3) 

In other words, dreams are more likely visual and emotional due to selective brain activation, but on the other hand, they are illogical bizarreness and disoriented, because of the area of the brain which generates logical thinking is deactivated, also part which generates orientation is unstable.

*i) REM sleep (rapid eye movement) - It is the stage of sleep characterized by rapid movements of the eyes. During this stage, the activity of the brain's neurons is quite similar to that during waking hours. Most of the vividly recalled dreams occur during this stage. It is the lightest form of sleep, and people awakened during REM usually feel alert and refreshed. 

*ii) NREM sleep (non rapid eye movement) - It is a sleeping stage of a person without rapid eye movement (REM). During this stage, brain activity decreases and the person becomes completely relaxed. Unlike REM sleep, there is usually little or no eye movement during this stage. Dreaming is rare during NREM sleep, and the muscles are not paralysed as in REM sleep.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very informative article thanks, it explains