Brain Facts

Brain Facts

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The content of an individual's dreams normally corresponds with that individual's language and memories, beliefs and culture, depends on an individual's day-to-day life, experiences, preoccupations, likes and dislikes.

But at times dreams seem to originate from an unknown apparently internal source which has been given labels such as the 'unconscious' or the 'subconscious'. Occasionally dreams contain information beyond the experience, knowledge or understanding of the dreamer.

The dreams of the blind do not include sights or scenes but include noises, the sense of contact and emotional experiences. Lavie found that there were only single eye movements during their nonpictorial dream sleep. The longer they had been blind, the sparser the eye movements of blind people and so Lavie showed that grouped eye movements indicate dream pictures. {10}

Lavie records that early-REM-period dreams deal with the present, and in most cases lack story or central character. But "dream reports made in the early hours of the morning are richer in detail, central characters, and feelings, and, compared with dreams from the first half of the night, they tend to deal more with the dreamer's early childhood".

First dreams are not remembered in the morning but last dreams are, and it is these last dreams which the psychiatrist is most likely to hear.

Dreams may deal with what happened during the day which has just passed, or are about what took place more than a week ago, but do not as a rule deal with the events of the seven days or so which come in between. This gap seems to show that two kinds of memory are involved, a short-term working memory and a more permanent long-term memory, and that it may take a week or so before at least some of the information which reached the working memory is processed and stored in the long-term memory.

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