Thus, we know that dreams are generated in, or transmitted through this particular area of the brain, which is associated with visual processing, emotion and visual memories.
Taken together, these recent findings tell an important story about the underlying mechanism and possible purpose of dreaming.
The scientists predicted the likelihood of successful dream recall based on a signature pattern of brain waves.
In order to do this, the Italian research team invited 65 students to spend two consecutive nights in their research laboratory.
During the first night, the students were left to sleep, allowing them to get used to the sound-proofed and temperature-controlled rooms.
During the second night the researchers measured the student’s brain waves while they slept.However, it was not until a few years ago that a patient reported to have lost her ability to dream while having virtually no other permanent neurological symptoms.The patient suffered a lesion in a part of the brain known as the right inferior lingual gyrus (located in the visual cortex).(There are five stages of sleep; most dreaming and our most intense dreams occur during the REM stage.) The students were woken at various times and asked to fill out a diary detailing whether or not they dreamt, how often they dreamt and whether they could remember the content of their dreams.While previous studies have already indicated that people are more likely to remember their dreams when woken directly after REM sleep, the current study explains why.Those participants who exhibited more low frequency theta waves in the frontal lobes were also more likely to remember their dreams.This finding is interesting because the increased frontal theta activity the researchers observed looks just like the successful encoding and retrieval of autobiographical memories seen while we are awake.Freud’s theory centred around the notion of repressed longing -- the idea that dreaming allows us to sort through unresolved, repressed wishes.Carl Jung (who studied under Freud) also believed that dreams had psychological importance, but proposed different theories about their meaning.Our dream stories essentially try to strip the emotion out of a certain experience by creating a memory of it. This mechanism fulfils an important role because when we don’t process our emotions, especially negative ones, this increases personal worry and anxiety.In fact, severe REM sleep-deprivation is increasingly correlated to the development of mental disorders.