From the earliest civilisations to the present day, humans have been fascinated by the many mysteries of dreams and dreaming. But in the 20th century, the discovery of REM sleep kickstarted a new era of scientific enquiry in dream research.
We talk to sleep and dream researcher Dr Antonio Zadra about the history of dream research, from ancient ideas, to the leading modern theories of the function of dreams.
Skip to sections:
2:30 The lucid dream that inspired Dr Zadra’s interest in the field
4:38 Dr Zadra’s current research interests
7:05 Public perceptions of dreaming, dream interpretation
9:01 Ancient ideas: dreams as ‘messages from the gods’
11:02 Dreams as results of ‘bodily processes’
14:18 Why Freud’s ideas were not as original as most people think
16:06 The forgotten pioneers of dream research
20:50 Jung, archetypes and dreams as collective experiences
23:21 Dream symbolism, are dream dictionaries accurate?
26:37 Is dream interpretation connected to the function of dreams?
32:14 The 20th century and the discovery of REM sleep
34:37 Why REM sleep is often associated exclusively with dreaming
37:15 An overview of modern theories of the function of dreams
37:59 Dreams as a way to solve problems
39:00 The threat-simulation theory of dreaming
40:00 Dreams as a means to simulate social interactions
41:10 Dream as spandrel’s, epiphenomena
43:06 The overlap between sleep research and dream research
44:57 The overwhelming evidence to show that dreams are not random experiences
47:11 What does the future hold for dream research?
This episode’s guest:
Dr. Antonio Zadra is currently Full Professor in the Department of Psychology at the Université de Montréal and is a researcher at the Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine (CARSM). Together with his students and a team of collaborators, he has published over 100 research articles and book chapters on dreams and parasomnias. In addition, Dr. Zadra has given over 160 conference presentations along with dozens of invited talks, including in the United States, Canada, England, Switzerland, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Japan.