Recent Theories: Why Do Dreams Occur From Daily Life

Dreams and Memory

  • Dreams are important for memory – but why?
  • Memory processing
  • Dreams contain memory fragments

David Szauder - Empty Kingdom - Art Blog:

  • It is difficult to tell whether dreams could use any other kind of mental content besides memories to “compose” a dream narrative
  • Even if dreams were, as Freud argued, about future wishes/desires, dreams would still need to tap memory stores to construct mental content

December issue of the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences (Behav Brain Sci. 2013 Dec;36(6):589-607. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X12003135), Professor Sue Llewellyn from the Faculty of Humanities, University of Manchester, United Kingdom, proposed a theory.

  • Professor Sue Llewellyn proposed that the cognitive system in REM dreaming can be understood as utilizing the ancient art of memory principles to enhance memory. The ancients used visualisation, bizarre association, method of loci (organisation), narration, embodiment, and other associational techniques to improve their memories.
  • The techniques operate in REM dreaming, according to Llewellyn
  • Memory networks interconnect with the cortex, setting up semantic networks that operate on associational principles. Llewellyn proposes that these create omnidirectional junctions.
  • A REM dream scene is retained by the hippocampus as an index and represent as a junction in NREM, thus setting up cognitive platforms for memory encoding during REM-NREM sleep cycles.
  • Episodic memory encoding must, in some sense, depend on dreams
  • There is no clear evidence that loss of dreaming results in memory deficits
  • It is difficult to find people who have completely lost the ability to dream, however, so evidence is hard to gather
  • Some people who claim to have never experienced dreams still have intact memories
  • Also, when dreaming is suppressed via chronic use of certain antidepressants, there is no discernible effect on memory encoding
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