Re: Anthropic dreams

From: Robin Lee Powell (
Date: Fri Sep 19 2003 - 17:09:20 MDT

On Fri, Sep 19, 2003 at 01:07:29PM -0500, Brian Atkins wrote:
> We're going off topic, but there was a nice feature in New Scientist on
> this recently:

Actually, one section seems quite on-topic to me:

> "I don't think we know anything with any confidence about what dreams
> are for," says psychiatrist Robert Stickgold of Harvard Medical School.
> But he has some ideas. Stickgold believes that one of the critical
> functions of dreaming is information processing, including memory
> consolidation (see main story). But he's recently extended the idea into
> a wider concept of information processing he calls "finding meaning".
> Sometimes when you have a difficult decision to make, all the rational
> thinking in the world won't give you the answer, he points out. So what
> do you do? "You go home that night and you sleep on it," says Stickgold.
> By the morning you somehow have the answer even though you've gained no
> new information overnight.
> It is dreaming during REM sleep, he thinks, that performs this magical
> decision-making process. As you dream, your brain runs through imaginary
> scenarios, testing your emotional response to them without rationality
> getting in the way. He now has experimental evidence that REM sleep
> promotes creative thought, allowing you to bring together widely
> differing concepts you would never link while awake.
> The evidence comes from a common cognitive test of a process called
> priming. Normally the investigator would show someone a word, then
> quickly flash up another, either real or meaningless. The task is to
> work out whether it's a real word or not. If the second word is related
> to the first, say the pair were "wrong" and "right", then the decision
> time is usually significantly faster than, say, "wrong" and "paper". The
> reason, according to conventional theory, is that the first word has
> primed the brain to recognise related words by activating networks of
> associated concepts.
> Stickgold, though, was not interested in wakeful consciousness. He
> tested people who had just been roused from REM sleep. The result was
> the exact opposite of wakefulness. The more distantly related the second
> word, the faster the subjects recognised it. "In REM sleep, the brain
> ignores the obvious in favour of the crazy, the unexpected or the
> bizarre," Stickgold says. "It's biased towards activating weak,
> non-obvious and potentially useful connections." And this, he says, is
> what allows us to make meaning out of complex information. It might even
> be the origin of creativity.

ISTR that GISAI talks about similar states.


Me:  ***   I'm a *male* Robin.
"but I'm not stupid and people are not stupid who think samely with me"
-- from an actual, real, non-spam mail sent to             ***              .i cimo'o prali .ui

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:42 MDT