ART & ORGANISM
There are many levels of consciousness … As the brain changes are continuous, so do all these consciousnesses melt into each other like dissolving views. Properly they are but one protracted consciousness, one unbroken stream. (Wm. James, The Principles of Psychology, Ch. 9, 1890). (from A&O notes on alternative states of cosnsciousness)
“Our life is twofold: Sleep hath its own world, / A boundary between the things misnamed / Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world, / And a wide realm of wild reality, / And dreams in their developement have breath, / And tears, and tortures, and the touch of Joy; … What are they? / Creations of the mind? – The mind can make / Substance, and people planets of its own / With beings brighter than have been, and give / A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.” [read excerpt from George Gordon, Lord Byron 1816 with link to notes: https://neilgreenberg.com/ao-excerpt-byron-on-dreams/]
Dreaming and the brain: from phenomenology to neurophysiology Dreams are a most remarkable experiment in psychology and neuroscience, conducted every night in every sleeping person. They show that our brain, disconnected from the environment, can generate by itself an entire world of conscious experiences. Content analysis and developmental studies have furthered our understanding of dream phenomenology. In parallel, brain lesion studies, functional imaging, and neurophysiology have advanced our knowledge of the neural basis of dreaming. It is now possible to start integrating these two strands of research in order to address some fundamental questions that dreams pose for cognitive neuroscience: how conscious experiences in sleep relate to underlying brain activity; why the dreamer is largely disconnected from the environment; and whether dreaming is more closely related to mental imagery or to perception.” (Yuval Nir and Giulio Tononi 2010 Complete essay HERE)
This is the “activation-synthesis model” referred to in a paper by Nir & Tononi’s paper from about 10 years ago. You should check it out: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2814941/ :
Trends Cogn Sci. 2010 Feb; 14(2): 88. Published online 2010 Jan 14. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.12.001 PMCID: PMC2814941 NIHMSID: NIHMS165848 PMID: 20079677
APPRECIATE that many anomalies of dreaming (such as a feeling of falling or unable to move) may be because these usually synchronized processes can get a little out of synch. ALSO, check into: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/apr/10/scientists-identify-parts-of-brain-involved-in-dreaming
“We now know that dreams are the result of localised firing of neurons that is probably induced by the brain’s many feedback connections and not dependent on information from external stimuli. Dreaming represents a unique physiological state in which activity similar to that we see when we are awake is promoted while behaviour is essentially cut off by powerful chemical systems that induce paralysis. … From a deep-learning perspective, learning isn’t like storing memories on a computer. Instead, it is about fine-tuning a huge, layered network of connections based on an inherently limited set of example data – the “training” data set. With every example that the system sees, the pattern and strength of the network’s connections are tweaked until it can parse the training data set effectively, which would be things like classifying images, playing a game or driving a car. (Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24833073-600-how-the-strangeness-of-our-dreams-reveals-their-true-purpose/#ixzz7OkbWZ6aI)
“The self-organization theory of dreaming proposes that the sleeping brain is a self-organizing system that can combine discontinuous and incongruous neuronal signals (i.e., different elements of dreams) into a relatively continuous narrative during sleep (Kahn and Hobson, 1993; Kahn et al., 2000, 2002). This theory also implies that dreams are not independently functional but rather a coproduct of the sleeping brain, reflecting the dreamer’s physiological and psychological activities such as memory consolidation, emotion regulation, and reception of external stimuli “(Zhang, 2016)[i] Read Zhang’s 2016 article, spelling out the converging influences on dreams and seeking reconciliation with FREUD’s View.
- Freud also believed that “Sources of dreams include stimuli from the external world, subjective experiences, organic stimuli within the body, and mental activities during sleep (p. 22). Zhang points out that “…empirical evidence has supported some of these assertions. The self-organization theory of dreaming posits that memory consolidation, emotion regulation, and reception of external stimuli can contribute to dream content (Zhang, 2016); hence, dream content can contain important information about the dreamer.”
DREAMING evokes a diversity of important connections & questions.
The neurocognitive processes involved in “experience” of all kinds overlap so much that the idea that all perception and conceptions are more-or-less “true” hallucinations has gotten traction in some circles..
WORTH A READ! Amongst my favorite authors, Jorge Luis Borges’ writing had a dream-like quality and was himself deeply engaged by dreams. Recently, Henry Eliot spoke to this in his essay, “Labyrinth of Dreams.”