The science of sleep mentation and REM sleep: Is dreaming functionally significant? – Antonio Zadra (Université de Montréal)
Although many contemporary dream researchers suggest that dreaming is functionally significant, some argue that dreams are epiphenomenal to neurophysiological activity during REM sleep. This presentation will begin by examining methodological issues in dream research with a focus on challenges in the collection and quantification of dream reports. Next, findings from brain imaging studies of REM sleep are briefly reviewed but it is argued that REM sleep is neither a necessary nor sufficient physiological condition for dreaming to occur. Dreaming is a cognitive achievement that develops throughout childhood and a considerable amount of psychological information can be extracted from dream reports. In adults, dreams show systematic relationships to various dimensions of the dreamer’s waking life. These research findings are consistent with the continuity hypothesis, which posits a relationship between everyday dream content and general waking states and concerns. In the end, dreaming may or may not have a function, but data convincingly show that dream content is a unique and meaningful psychological product of the human brain.
Antonio Zadra, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology at the Université de Montréal, Director of the university’s Dream Laboratory and a Senior Research Scholar of the Quebec Health Research Fund. His research interests include recurrent dreams, nightmares, somnambulism and the assessment and treatment of parasomnias and dream-related disorders.