Sometimes we see some really weird things in our dreams that do not make any sense. What may they mean and where do they come from? Here are the results of several studies that tried to answer this question.
People suffering from amnesia have the most bizarre dreams
People who have lost their memory, have very strange dreams. There are several types of memory, and a person suffering from amnesia cannot store in his memory some events, specific facts or dates. It is amazing that in dreams some things, events and even skills can go back to them, even if in real life they do not remember these things.
During a number of experiments, people suffering from amnesia were told about the game “Tetris”, but they did not remember what kind of game it was. Then they were woken up in the middle of the night and asked what they had seen in a dream. Three of the five subjects claimed to have seen “falling, overturning blocks.”
Healthy people even in the most bizarre dreams mostly see objects familiar to them, while people with amnesia can see really strange objects and cannot remember where they had seen them in real life.
Strange dreams are just a sorting of memories
The study of amnesia allowed Dr. Robert Stickgold to propose another hypothesis about dreams. He tried to answer the question of why do we have strange dreams. Stickgold revealed that amnesic people keep in the subconscious am image of an event, even if they can not consciously pull it from the depths of memory. For some reason the brain reproduces this image at night.
According to his theory, strange dreams are an attempt to sort the different signals of the brain in search of connections between them. For example, you dream that you are in a restaurant with your school football coach, the chair you are sitting on is made of iron, and your dog is your waiter.
In reality, your brain takes a ‘file’ with the memory of your dog and compares it with what you remember about your school coach, to understand how these two memories are associated together. That is, according to Dr. Stickgold, your brain is “looking for cross-links.” Sometimes these connections coincide with reality, sometimes not.
Other studies have shown that the most bizarre dreams are associated with increased activity in the right amygdala, a brain region that is related also to the formation of memories. These studies support the idea that the stranger a dream is, the more difficult it is for the brain to find connections between different memories.
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