Bizarre Elements Of Dreams Essay

1886 words - 8 pages

Bizarre Elements of Dreams

In this Experiment, eighty-eight subjects were asked to individually recall and transcribe dreams and daydreams over a one-week period. It was also requested that they note anything prominent that had happened to them over that week. Results worksheets were the filled out and data was handed in for analysis. The hypothesis was to test Hobson & McCartley's activation-synthesis hypothesis that dreams would have more bizarreness than other waking narratives, Our results, however, failed to support this, instead showing a higher significance of bizarreness when daydreaming, and supporting the findings of Reinsel, Antrobus & Wollman. Scene shifts and transformations were also a focus of our study, results were in accordance with our hypothesis, however did not achieve statistical significance.

A dream may be defined as a mental experience, occurring in sleep, which is characterised by hallucinoid imagery, predominantly visual and often vivid (Hobson & McCarley, 1977). J. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley argue that dreams are simply the by-product of bursts of activity amaniting from subcortial areas in the brain (Hobson, 1988; Hobson & McCarley, 1977; McCarley, 1994, cited in W. Weiten, 1998).

One explanation of bizarreness and disruptive discontinuities found in dream reports is provided by the activation-synthesis hypothesis (McCarthy & Hoffman, 1981 sited in Rittenhouse et al). This model (as seen below in Table 1) proposes that dream bizarreness is a psychological correlate of REM state physiology. The most important tenet of the activation-synthesis hypothesis is that during dreaming the activation brain generates its own information by a pontine brain stem neuronal mechanism (Hobson et al, 1977). This produces "wide awake" brain waves during REM sleep, creating what is known as a "dream".

Table 1. Activation-Synthesis Hypothesis Explained

The ASH was challenged by Reinsel, Antrobus, & Wollman (1992)…further claimed that while REM sleep dreams are bizarre, they are no more so than reports of either NREM sleep mentation or waking fantasy.

Williams, Merritt, Rittenhouse, & Hobson supported the activation-synthesis hypothesis reporting that dreams are quantitatively different from waking fantasies (1992). They postulated that dream bizarreness is the direct cognitive correlate of aminergic demodulation of cortical networks in REM sleep. Their results indicate that dreams contain more bizarreness as well as other "dreamy" features than daydreams and waking fantasy (Williams et al, 1992). Dreams were found to be significantly more bizarre in incongruity and discontinuity, as well as uncertainty.

Williams et al. concluded that due to the difference in neuronal activity of the brain between the two states, dreaming and fantasies are two totally different modes of information processing (1992). This is due to the difference in neuronal activity of the...

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