Since the beginning of humans, dreams have come to us naturally during the daily sleep cycle. In ancient Greek and Roman societies, dreams were believed to have prophetical powers, and even in modern society, some still believe dreams can predict the future. Those that don’t can still get behind the science of dream analysis.
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were the first people to have written and released a serious and in depth study of dreams as a psychological concept. Although these were some of the first theories, other theories have followed as technology has continued to progress.
One of the least popular theories to date is known as the activation-synthesis hypothesis which states that dreams don’t mean anything, but instead they are random relapse images in our brain. When we wake up, we subconsciously make stories out of these images so that they make sense.
There has been lots of evidence gathered to counter this theory, given the many realistic aspects associated with our dreams. Evolutionary psychologists have more logically thought up the idea that dreams do serve a purpose.
Another theory is known as the threat simulation which describes dreaming as an ancient biological defense mechanism meant to be advantageous to humans even while sleeping because it simulates potential dangers.
Only recently has tangible evidence been provided on dreams outside of theory.
The Journal of Neuroscience has recently added insight in the mechanisms and more complex workings that go hand in hand with dreaming. Cristina Marzano, a worker at the University of Rome has explained for the first time how humans are able to recall their dreams after waking up. Marzano and her associates predicted that dream recollection was dependent on the signature pattern of brain waves. In order to get this information, they had 65 students spend two nights in their laboratory.
Apparently, dreams are also affected by our emotions. This link is shown in another recent study conducted and published by Matthew Walker. His colleagues found that less REM sleep, or dreaming, can influence our ability to understand complex emotions. They also found the area of the brain that dreams are likely to occur in.
Charcot-Wilbrand Syndrome is commonly known to cause loss of the ability to dream. This was discovered through a patient reporting her sudden loss of dreaming and had had no other neurological symptoms. She had suffered a lesion in the front right inferior lingual gyrus. This is how we discovered what area of the brain dreams can occur in.
There is always new information and theories coming up about dreams, but it remains that they are a significant part of the human nighttime experience. They help us to process emotions by encoding and constructing memories of them. Dreams may or may not predict the future, but the emotions within those dreams are very substantial. Despite the big mystery surrounding the nightly visitor, dreams are an important part of how we process and display our everyday lives.
Written by Dallas Johnson