Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dreamtime

There's a terrific New York Times article on Dreaming titled A Dream Interpretation: Tuneups for the Brain that appears to tie in nicely with the theory of sleep, a subject covered by BRT titled, The Meaning of Sleep where researchers likened sleep as a process akin to defragging a disk ...

As posted online September 11, 2009 by Nature Neuroscience, György Buzsaki, professor at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University, Newark, and his co-researchers, Gabrielle Girardeau, Karim Benchenane, Sidney I. Wiener and Michaël B. Zugaro of the Collége de France, have determined that short transient brain events, called “sharp wave ripples,” are responsible for consolidating memory and transferring the learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex, where long-term memories are stored.

In the Times article ... Dr. J. Allan Hobson, a psychiatrist and longtime sleep researcher at Harvard, argues that the main function of rapid-eye-movement sleep, or REM, when most dreaming occurs, is physiological. The brain is warming its circuits, anticipating the sights and sounds and emotions of waking.

“It helps explain a lot of things, like why people forget so many dreams,” Dr. Hobson said in an interview. “It’s like jogging; the body doesn’t remember every step, but it knows it has exercised. It has been tuned up. It’s the same idea here: dreams are tuning the mind for conscious awareness.”


Sounds like booting up a computer to me.

Addendum: The real importance of this research deals with mental illness and how the diseased brain deals with reality:

"Researchers have a way to go before they can confirm or fill out this working hypothesis. But the payoffs could extend beyond a deeper understanding of the sleeping brain. People who struggle with schizophrenia suffer delusions of unknown origin. Dr. Hobson suggests that these flights of imagination may be related to an abnormal activation of a dreaming consciousness. “Let the dreamer awake, and you will see psychosis,” Jung said."
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