Home > Meeting Topics and Material, News Stories > Weekly QuEST Discussion Topics and News, 2 May

Weekly QuEST Discussion Topics and News, 2 May

The first topic this week is a quick overview of two DARPA efforts some of us had the opportunity to hear about from their PM this week – ICArUS and KRNS:

The second topic is a discussion on Dreaming and related topics in sleepwalking, sedation and hypnosis. Discussion topics include:

Why QuEST cares about understanding dreaming. – I think that the way to understand what the qualia actually in our heads are like is to see what gets made out them when we dream. Every component of a dream has to be a playback of the snippets of life experiences stored in the brain, the same ones we use to construct the model of the world which we generate in response to external stimuli while awake. We believe that the purpose of the brain doing the snippet replay is to consolidate the formation of relevant memories. Unfortunately that is done with replaying the snippets through the sensory channels. The brain must make a ‘plausible’ narrative to handle all processing in the sensory channels. That is a price we pay for reuse of subsystems. The dream itself is the narrative constructed to explain away the sequence of snippets….

Why we can’t recall our dreams. – Answer – from adam – it has to do with the lack of predictability of the dream – memories / perception / imagination is about generating sequences that could account for current experiences (or prior or potential future ones). Since the purpose of dreams (CA theory – generate potential links between recent experiences so they can more efficiently be exercised when needed) they often combine recent experiences into combinations that are not at all what one would expect to be experienced (not predictable). In fact perception is all about reliable predictability of a plausible (stable, consistent and useful) narrative of the current world. Dreams (like humor) are all about generating implausible sequences just to exercise combinations that might be useful (they often are not physically plausible but that isn’t the criterion for optimization). Since memory is a imagined past – it is very hard to imagine a sequence of ‘random’ experiences that have never occurred before…

Where do dreams come from. –

When does consciousness arise – in the womb, at birth or during early childhood? Article by Koch – this article has some discussion of dreams in it also

Why we dream. –

Role of sleep – One area of change is the synapses, the connections between neurons, which are altered as the brain receives stimuli. “What happens when you’re awake is you produce an overall strengthening of synapses,” Dr. Tononi said. “That’s good, because that’s how you learn.”

Dreams as a tuneup for the day. – Dreams are so rich and have such an authentic feeling that scientists have long assumed they must have a crucial psychological purpose. To Freud, dreaming provided a playground for the unconscious mind; to Jung, it was a stage where the psyche’s archetypes acted out primal themes. Newer theories hold that dreams help the brain to consolidate emotional memories or to work though current problems, like divorce and work frustrations. Yet what if the primary purpose of dreaming isn’t psychological at all?

• Neuroscientist Mark Solms explains how dreams may protect and distract our brains from the outside world and allow the body to rest.

• Finding answers in your dreams – When you fall asleep, you enter an alternative state of consciousness—a time when true inspiration can strike …

• 1 >> The act of dreaming is simply thinking about our usual concerns in a different state of consciousness.

• 2>> Dreams can be especially helpful for problems that require creativity or visualization to solve.

• 3>> By thinking about specific dilemmas before bed, we can increase our chances that we will dream a solution

Meanings of dreams. – What makes us dream? A new study suggests the impulse to dream during sleep may come from signals in the brainstem, not from the brain’s higher-order regions… taking an exam naked … prof equivalent version… wish fulfillment .. depends on your bias …

Boredom – implications for brain processing.

Birds and Dreaming. – One bird, in particular — the zebra finch, which researchers say has a sleep structure very much like that of people and other mammals.

The days events are incorporated into that night’s dreams. – Research suggests that much of what happens in a dream is unique to that dream. But some events from a person’s day can be incorporated into dreams in two stages. …

Vivid dreams –

Why we have bad dreams – Writing in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, Drs. Ross Levin and Tore Nielsen suggest that run-of-the-mill bad dreams are part of the brain’s method of processing emotions. In fact, they say, emotional regulation may be the primary function of REM sleep, the sleep stage during which most dreams occur.

Possibly add topics in sleepwalking / sleepeating / sedation / hypnosis …


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