Dreams, Reality & Memory

What can dreams teach us about the brain?

Dreams have long been a source of fascination and an area of keen investigation for the Foundation. Dream-related studies funded by MSF include Peter Morgan of Yale University. His recently completed investigation of the brain regions involved in dreams resulted in publication in a highly regarded open-access scientific journal. Here are his thoughts about the results written in layman’s terms:

Dreams are an enduring puzzle. Why do we have them? What do they mean? Are they experiences? Can they teach us about consciousness and the experience of our world? In this new work we use a neuropsychological approach to dreaming. Neuropsychology involves giving people behavioral tests with pen and paper or a computer – tests that engage particular regions of the brain. From other studies of people who have localized brain damage, we know which parts of the brain are involved in doing the tests. In our study we hoped to try to understand the brain regions that might be involved in dreaming. By comparing those regions to the parts of the brain involved in other processes, like mental illnesses, we hoped to understand the relevance of dreams to psychiatry.

Psychiatrists thought for a long time that solving the puzzles posed by dreams would provide the key to mental illnesses, to people’s complex inner lives. This idea fell out of favor as we discovered medications that could help mental illnesses in the 1950s and 1960s. The rise of biological psychiatry coincided with a decrease in interest in dreams in mainstream psychiatry. However, more recently people have studied dreams more and more because they might represent a model or proxy for symptoms of serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia.


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The Baton Rouge shooter was a sleep walker, whatever state you call that,

some of us feel it’s a connection or redirection of a handler.
He got a buddy list for targeted individuals, then asked to be removed from all of it.

Something strange was going on. He was on anti depressants, some on LinkedIn
say psychosis, unlikely to become a calculated killer.