Despite our millennia-old fascination with dreams, their meaning, and their roles in our lives, it wasn’t up until the late 20th century that scientists really began to make big leaps into investigating the possible biological functions of dreams.
But despite a now vibrant and eclectic body of research and evidence of scientific theories of dreaming, their relationship to memory, cognition and our emotional lives, up until now we’ve failed to come up with an overarching framework, a ‘big idea’ to describe the biological function of our dream lives.
In a new book, When Brains Dream, two world authorities in the science of sleep and dreams make a bold leap into proposing a new theory – NEXTUP, Network Exploration to Understand Possibilities – which elegantly encompasses a vast swathe of previously gathered evidence in dream research, but also emphasises the vital importance of narratives, the subjective experience of dreaming, and the offline processing of weak memory associations.
This episode’s guests:
Robert Stickgold is a professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition.