I know we discussed our dreams before...reasons on why do we sleep etc...but what is the necessity for dreams do they have a deep hidden message from sub-concious memory.?? Philosophers and writers as far back as Aristotle have speculated on the reason for dreams, but the first theory to really catch attention was the one proposed by Sigmund Freud at the turn of the century. Freud believed that people dream to relieve sexual frustration created by repressed or hidden desires, allowing them to act on forbidden impulses. However, he felt that because the rules of polite society reject such impulses, people had to disguise their true feelings using symbolic imagery. So instead of dreaming about sexual intercourse, a person might dream about a train entering a tunnel. Freud's theory has been widely disseminated and popularized through literature, television and movies, but most contemporary psychologists feel that it is riddled with problems. First, almost all mammals dream, and it is hard to believe that our pets feel the societal pressure to conform to sexual mores. This argument applies to infants as well, since fetuses and newborns spend twice as much time dreaming than adults do. Furthermore, not all dreams involve sex or sexual imagery. Even Freud admitted, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." ============================================== In the late 1970s, Hobson and McCarley proposed the activation-synthesis hypothesis of dreaming, which maintains that a dream is simply a reflection of the brain’s aroused state during REM sleep. During this period, the cerebral cortex is active but is largely shut off from sensory input. Internal stimuli such as memories become more prominent because they do not have to compete with information pouring in through the senses. According to Hobson and McCarley, the memories most likely to come to mind are the most recent ones, which would explain why we often dream of the previous day's events. The cortex performs its usual job and attempts to integrate the messages into a coherent narrative, but the fractured images combine in bizarre ways that make sense only within the context of the dream. However, dreams are not objective playbacks of our memories. They are stories colored by thoughts, hopes and wishes that have deeply personal meaning. This would explain why we often dream about people, places and events that have emotional significance for us. ============================================== Another theory about dreaming comes from the field of memory research. This theory holds that the reiteration of memories in our dreams serves to solidify the memory's storage. Support for this idea comes from studies where subjects learned a set of words before undergoing a period of REM sleep deprivation. The group that did not get any REM sleep recalled fewer words than the group that was allowed to experience REM sleep. These findings prompted neuroscientists to examine the brain for patterns of neuronal activity that occurred both during waking and sleeping. This is a difficult task even in a rat brain, since there are billions of possible synaptic connections. Where to look first? In Bruce McNaughton's lab, they concentrated on spatial learning and the hippocampus. They found that neuronal circuits in the hippocampus that were active while the rat was learning a spatial task (such as a maze) were reactivated when the animal went to sleep. These results are exciting, but so far there is no hard evidence that memory reactivation during sleep has functional significance. While the REM sleep deprivation experiments would suggest that sleep and memory are connected, such findings are always difficult to interpret because lack of sleep usually makes people irritable and less focused... ============================================== PHYSIOLOGICAL THEORY ============================================== The physiological theory centers upon how our body, specifically our brains, function during the REM phase of sleep. Proponents of this theory believe that we dream to exercise the synapses, or pathways, between brain cells, and that dreaming takes over where the active and awake brain leaves off. When awake, our brains constantly transmit and receive messages, which course through our billions of brain cells to their appropriate destinations, and keep our bodies in perpetual motion. Dreams replace this function. Two underpinning physiological facts go towards supporting this theory of dreams. The first lies in the fact that the first two or so years of ones life, the most formative ones for learning, are also the ones in which the most REM sleep occurs. It follows that during this time of the greatest REM sleep, we experience the greatest number of dreams. The second physiological fact that lends credence to this theory is that our brain waves during REM sleep, as recorded by machines measuring the brain's electrical activity, are almost identical in nature to the brain waves during the hours we spend awake. This is not the case during the other phases of sleep... The elusive and personal nature of dreams makes them challenging to study, but researchers are making inroads toward unlocking their meaning. any inputs to this would be welcome... bye!