Dreams: What and Why?

Essay by futbolboy14High School, 10th gradeA+, April 2006

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Dreams are defined as mental activity associated with the rapid-eye-movement period of sleep. They are normally made up of a lot of visual images, scenes or thoughts expressed in terms of seeing rather than in those of the other senses or in words. Electroencephalograph readings, which measure the electrical activity of the brain, show that young adults dream for 1 1/2 to 2 hours for every 8-hour period of sleep. Babies spend about 50% of their sleep in the REM phase - much more than adults - a figure which diminishes steadily with age. During dreams, blood pressure and heart rate rise, and breathing is quickened, but the body is normally immobile. Studies show that sleepers deprived of dream-sleep become irritable and lose coordination skills. Studies have also proven the existence of lucid dreaming, where the individual is aware that he is dreaming and has an amount of control over his dream.

As the reader might guess the different parts of the brain relate differently to dreams. They are possibly created in the Parietal lobe, as patients with injuries in that area lost temporarily the ability to dream. After the lesions healed the dreams continued. Other cases of complete loss of dreaming had bifrontal focal lesions in the white matter below the frontal horns of the lateral ventricles. Patients with focal injuries in the frontal-limbic lobe had incredibly vivid dreams that were almost lifelike. As they went on the patients became confused as to what was real and what was a dream. Patients with injuries in the Temporal lobe seemed to have a drastic increase in nightmares; these dreams became very repetitive as well. Lastly, patients with injuries to the visual association cortex seemed to lose all visual images or could only see still pictures.

Dreams are the way of...