Dreaming | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy

Dreaming | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy

Voiceover: Do you
remember your last dream? Maybe it was really nice, maybe scary, maybe just a little weird. Maybe you don’t even remember dreaming. Everybody does dream, [bearing] any brain damage and you dream every
night during REM sleep. Sometimes you dream during non-REM sleep but those dreams aren’t
as vivid or memorable. You can usually tell
that someone’s dreaming because their eyes are moving rapidly underneath their closed lids. If you were to look at
an EEG of their brain it would look almost like they’re awake. Even though their body is
completely non-responsive and mostly paralyzed. Most dreams last about five
to 20 minutes at a time and they don’t seem to be localized in any one part of the brain. If you remember your
dreams when you wake up, you might remember that some
pretty strange things happened even though they probably
didn’t seem that weird when you were in the dream. One reason that we don’t realize how strange dreams are until we wake up is that during REM sleep, activity in our prefrontal
cortex is decreased. That’s the part of the brain responsible for logical
thinking and planning, so if it’s not very active then we wouldn’t be aware
of things in our dreams that defy logic like fooling around, or animals talking to you, or something. No one really knows why dreams occur but there are plenty
of different theories. The most popularized one
is Sigmund Freud’s idea that dreams are unconscious
thoughts and desires that need to be interpreted. There’s very little science
to really support this idea. Even within evolutionary psychology there are lot of other theories
about why people dream. Some evolutionary psychologist think that it allows us to simulate threats so that we’re better prepared
for them in the real world. Some think that it helps us solve problems by thinking about them in
an altered biochemical state and still other evolutionary
psychologists think that dreaming is just a byproduct
of our neural development and serve no real purpose at all. Even within one school of thought there are multiple theories
about why dreams occur. You can imagine how
many there are over all in all of psychology
and all philosophy too. Just to give you an idea of some of the range of dream theories, I’ll tell you about a couple others. Some psychologist think
that the combination of conscious and unconscious elements that occurs during dreaming helps our brain maintain flexibility, enabling us to learn and be
creative when we’re awake. Still others think that
dreaming helps our brain sort of clean up by
sweeping away some thoughts and incorporating others
into long term memory which is a process called consolidation. There definitely does seem to be some link between memory and sleep. People who learn something and then sleep tend to do better than people who learn and/or then deprived of sleep. The role of REM sleep and
dreaming in particular is unclear. Another theory is that
dreaming helps our brains repair and recuperate by preserving and developing neural pathways. One reason people think this might be true is that in infants
who are constantly developing new neural networks and growing spend most of their time in the REM stage. As might be particularly helpful for them. Given the number of theories out there you should feel free to
come up with your own ideas. Regardless of why dreams occur, we know that they do and
it can be kind of fun, if a little scary to see
what our brains come up with when we’re not quite in control.

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2 thoughts on “Dreaming | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy

  1. Your videos are all so interesting and helpful!! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! What did you study? Biology?

  2. According to me dreams serve no real purpose maybe they are just a summary of your day, the things that are stored by your unconscious brain are replayed through dreams and maybe so you just end up remembering things that are important according to your brain.

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