dimecres, 14 de novembre de 2012

Explainer: what is dreaming? In other words: bad sleep equals bad memory

[...] in recent years the role of dreams in cognition has been reinvigorated by the discovery that the two basic modes of sleep – dream (REM) sleep and Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) – play quite different roles in how we recover from the trials and tribulations of wakefulness.

machineslikeus.com // Wednesday, 14 November 2012

In simplistic terms, SWS regulates physical recovery and REM mental recovery.

Starting with rodent studies, depriving animals of REM sleep was associated with impaired learning. The way in which memories are laid down and learning consolidated is profoundly linked to brain activity during dreaming sleep.

More recently, the same phenomena have been observed in human studies – and these have spawned a whole new field of REM sleep research linking the quality and quantity of dream sleep to memory and learning.

Back to the start

Ironically, the story may yet come full circle. While the first generation of “scientific” dream research did not find a simple link between the reported content of the dream and psychological health, the next generation of dream research may well uncover a link, however subtle.

Many of the drugs we use to treat depression have profound effects on REM or dreaming sleep. We know the ways in which depressed patients learn and recall memories is very different to people who are not depressed.

Depressed people are more likely to recall negative events, experiences and emotions, and more likely to forget positive ones. We know that people who do not get enough sleep, especially REM sleep, do not learn as effectively.

The next 20 years promise a very new and exciting period for research into REM sleep.

But if we stand aside from the immediacy of the new technologies of sleep and the “science” of recent dream research we can see some broader patterns repeating in the human history of dreaming.

We are still looking at dreams as a different state of consciousness that merges aspects of sleep and wakefulness. We still see dreams as an aspect of mind and brain that can influence how we see and interpret the world.

We now have sufficient knowledge of genetics to see that our brains carry the seeds of the past and that the ways our brains operate do reflect the collective unconscious – an idea posited by Freud’s famous student, Carl Jung.

We still see dreams as a source of inspiration and a canvas upon which we can create new and different possibilities, new futures.

One can only wonder on how we might understand and use our dreams in another thousand years.

Source: http://machineslikeus.com/news/explainer-what-dreaming/page/0/1

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