Activation-Synthesis-biological theory of dreaming by …

Freud, S. (1900). The interpretation of dreams (J. Crick, Trans.). London: Oxford University Press.

activation-synthesis hypothesis (20th century) Psychology

In general, then, REM dreams are a more realistic enactment of everyday life than is suggested by the psychiatric tradition from which the Freudian, Jungian, and activation-synthesis theories derive. However, this does not mean there is no bizarreness in dreams, just far less than Freudian, Jungian, and activation-synthesis theorists assume. But the secondary nature of bizarreness in dreams also raises another question: what about bizarreness in waking thought? Studies of waking thought samples suggest that there are far more jumps in thinking and the sudden appearance of thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere than is implied by a juxtaposition of bizarre dreaming with rational waking thought (Kane, et al., 2007; Klinger, 1999; Klinger & Cox, 1987-1988).

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Still other laboratory studies concluded that NREM dream reports do not differ very much from REM reports, especially late in the sleep period when participants are awakened from Stage II NREM (Antrobus, 1983; Antrobus, Kondo, & Reinsel, 1995; Cicogna, Natale, Occhionero, & Bosinelli, 1998). This conclusion was first denied and then downplayed by activation-synthesis theorists because of their emphasis on REM sleep as the basis for the allegedly bizarre nature of dreams (Hobson, et al., 2000b). More recently activation-synthesis theorists have found it more difficult to defend their REM-based theory of activation since results from one of their own studies demonstrated that REM and Stage II NREM reports are increasingly similar after the third REM period, as earlier studies also showed (R. Fosse, Stickgold, & Hobson, 2004). They now cling to the fact that two studies using their database of home-collected REM and NREM dream reports found differences in the frequency of aggression in the REM and Stage II NREM reports (McNamara, McLaren, & Durso, 2007; McNamara, McLaren, Smith, Brown, & Stickgold, 2005). In the first of these studies, 24% of 100 late-night REM reports had at least one hostility or aggression, compared to only 12% for the 100 NREM reports, but that leaves 82% of the dreams in the combined sample similar in that they contained no aggression. Moreover, there were no differences on friendly interactions in the first of the two studies. In the second study, there were more similarities than differences for reports from the two stages of sleep.

The apparent lack of highly unusual dream content in REM reports was investigated in more detail in a study of 16 young adult women who spent two consecutive nights each in the lab and answered questions about the familiarity and likelihood of specific dream elements after an average of four REM awakenings per night (Dorus, Dorus, & Rechtschaffen, 1971). The investigators concluded that their results "emphasize the rarity of the bizarre in dreams" because major distortions of actual waking experiences reach a high of only 16.7% of all the activities and social interactions, and of 6.2% and 7.8% for all characters and physical surroundings (Dorus, et al., 1971, p. 367). The figures for the most improbable category of events that were never experienced by the dreamer in waking life were 4.9% of all physical surroundings, 1.3% of all characters, and 6.8% of all activities and social interactions. When the investigators carried out global ratings of each dream for overall novelty, they found that 25.8% contained large but plausible differences from previous waking experiences and that 8.9% were highly improbable by waking standards.


18/11/2017 · The Functional Role of Dreaming ..

The many laboratory studies of adult dreams in the 1960s and 1970s, now often forgotten or ignored, led to a very surprising result: the dreams reported from REM awakenings are usually reasonable simulations of the waking world that deal with everyday topics and contain relatively few fantastic or bizarre aspects; then, too, the speech acts included in dreams are as well executed and context-appropriate as in waking life (Foulkes, et al., 1993; Meier, 1993)

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Detailed studies of the waking cognitive abilities of the children in these studies showed that verbal and linguistic skills do not play a role until dreaming is fully developed. They also reveal that the lack of dream reports cannot be attributed to a failure to recall or an inability to communicate. The one good and consistent predictor of the frequency of dream reporting in children ages 5-9 is visuospatial skills, which leads to the hypothesis that mental imagery may develop gradually and be a necessary cognitive prerequisite for dreaming. This idea is supported by studies revealing that those who are born blind or who become blind before the age of 4 have no visual imagery in their dreams, whereas those who become blind after age 6 continue to have visual imagery in their dreams (N. Kerr, 1993).

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It also might be useful to mention the three ways in which dream reports differ from other types of oral utterances or written reports. First, dream reports are not generally self-initiated; in other words, very few of the people who provide dream reports would have written down or spoken their dreams if they had not been asked to do so by researchers, although those few who keep dream diaries for their own personal reasons are an important exception. Second, the dream reports that are used in dream research are a unique human statement in that they were not spoken or written -- even by those who keep personal dream journals -- in order to communicate with or influence other people. That is, they are "representational," not "instrumental," communications (Hall & Van de Castle, 1966, p. 21). Third, it is noteworthy that dreams are usually experienced as something that happens to the dreamer without self-effort, and therefore not as something intended, so people do not tend to accept as much responsibility for their dream reports as they do for what they say or write based on waking thoughts and experiences.