Dreams – REM

Theories attempting to explain the origin and functions of REM sleep include: (1) that
REM sleep provides stimulation for the development of the brain; (2) that it performs a chemical
restoration function, since during REM dreaming neuro-protein synthesis occurs along with the
restoration of other depleted brain chemicals; (3) that it provides oculomotor (eye movement)
coordination, since during non-REM sleep the eyes move independently of each other; (4) that it
provides a vigilance function, since REM sleep (stage I) is characterized by a level of
consciousness close to the awakened state; (5) in a more recent and controversial theory, REM
dreaming performs a neurological erasure function, eliminating extraneous information build-up in
the memory system; and (6) that, in a more cognitive psychological explanation, REM dreaming
enhances memory storage and reorganization.
Contrary to popular belief, dreaming is not caused by eating certain foods before
bedtime, nor by environmental stimuli during sleeping. Dreaming is caused by internal biological
process. Some researchers have proposed the activation-synthesis hypothesis. Their
neurological research indicates that large brain cells in the primitive brain stem spontaneously fire
about every 90 minutes, sending random stimuli to cortical areas of the BRAIN. As a
consequence, memory, sensory, muscle-control, and cognitive areas of the brain are randomly
stimulated, resulting in the higher cortical brain attempting to make some sense of it. This,
according to the research, gives rise to the experience of a dream.
Now, as in the past, the most significant controversy centers on the question of whether dreams
have intentional, or actual personal, meaning. Many psychotherapists maintain that while the
neurological impulses from the brain stem may activate the dreaming process, the content or
meaningful representations in dreams a…

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