Understanding Dreams Essay Research Paper Understanding DreamsThroughout

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Understanding Dreams Essay, Research Paper Understanding Dreams Throughout history, humanity has tried to understand the meaning of dreams. Philosophers, mystics and scientists all cared about the issue. Though, they came to different answers. Ancient cultures and even modern ones have interpreted dreams as inspirations, divine signs and prophetic visions. They also interpret them as sexual fantasies, alternative realities, and many other beliefs fears and conjunctures. They’re so many interpretations, due to dreams’ mysterious nature. For some it is not a case of if dreams have meaning for they are convinced they do not exist. Through discussing dreams, including the study of dreams and the ideas of experts, dreams can be proven to exist and that they may have meaning.

Dreams can be defined as a series of thoughts, images or emotions that only occur during rapid eye movement or also known as R.E.M. state of sleep. The study of dreams is called the neurobiology of dreams. An electroencephalograph or EEG is a device used in this science to register the brain cells activity through a person’s several states. They range from the awaken state to deep sleep. An EEG observes the total sum of electrical activity of millions of neurons principally located in the cortex of the brain. There are two different basic types of sleep, which are R.E.M. sleep and N.R.E.M. sleep. R.E.M. sleep is the state of sleep in which dreaming occurs. N.R.E.M. sleep stands for non rapid eye movement and has four stages. They are beta, alpha, theta, and delta waves. Pham 2

Beta waves have a very low amplitude and a high frequency. They occur about thirteen to thirty waves per second. They are irregularly registered on the EEG. Thus, they are unsynchronized. “They are the fastest EEG waves and signal an active cortex and an intense state of intention.”(Cotman 611). Alpha waves have a low amplitude and waves occur eight to thirteen per second. Register is regular and synchronized. And then as Cotman also points out this is a state when a person is awake and relaxed but with their eyes closed (611). This is a state where a person is in resting. Theta waves have a low to medium amplitude and waves occur every three to seven waves per second. The waves are spike like. This state occurs when a person is sleepy, already sleeping or in sleep

transition. Cotman says these waves can be observed from the hippocampus part of the brain (612). Neurons are processing information in this state and the hippocampus may be involved in memory processing. This supports one theory of why we sleep that will be discussed later. Theta waves are not just N.R.E.M. waves but are present in R.E.M. sleep also. Delta waves have a high amplitude and a low frequency. The waves occur three waves per second. Waves are large and slow. Delta waves occur when a person is in a deep sleep. This state is the deepest sleep. Neurons in this state are no longer processing Information as opposed to the Theta state. Delta waves are firing at the same time and are synchronized. R.E.M waves occur sixty to seventy waves per second. R.E.M sleep is the most

active sleep. R.E.M sleep is quite different from the four states of non R.E.M sleep. The cortex Pham 3 is active like when awake. The cortex is not necessary for R.E.M. sleep to take place but helps in dream elaboration. Brain activity in the pons, a structure in the brain stem and neighboring in midbrain regions. It sends signals to the thalamus and cerebral cortex, two regions responsible for thought processes. Ponto genticulo-occipital waves or PGO are also observed in deep sleep. They are spontaneous, intermittent, high voltage peeks that appear simultaneously in the pontine structures. They are the lateral geniculate and occipital cortex where the pons send signals. Both electrophysiological and neurochemical studies have exploited this phenomenon in an effort to identify