How are things? Are you still tracking your dreams?
Since we know you are passionate about dreams, we’d like to share the following thoughts with you.
First of all, how many times have you taken a moment to ask yourself what your dreams mean? It’s natural to wonder what they are trying to tell us, especially if you have recurring dreams.
It’s a little like when you fall in love with somebody – at first you probably aren’t even aware or you don’t want to admit that you have feelings for a certain person. It’s also common to meet someone who, at first sight, seems really annoying and then, maybe months or years later, you have to admit to yourself that you admire or are perhaps even a little jealous of that person.
Probably your unconscious had been trying to tell you this for a long time, but you were always too busy or distracted to listen. So you just kept on with your normal life, acting as if nothing in particular was happening, until one day you found yourself faced with a stark new reality.
We at Dreamboard are here to remind you that people can learn to listen to their unconscious, without any help from fortune tellers or interpreters, by looking instead at their dreams. There’s no need to ask someone to interpret your dreams for you – your dreams are yours alone. They are representations that your mind has created only for you, starting with your feelings and emotions.
By using Dreamboard, thanks to the feedback that the application gives you and the opportunity to read, day by day, your dream journal, you can understand more about yourself and – who knows, you may even discover a secret love!
Why not start now? It’s a challenge for both you and for us – a path we will take together toward your inner self and the wellness of your mind and body.
Here’s some very interesting news from our scientific team. Give it a close read and we think you’ll discover some incredible scientific facts about dreams.
Thousands of papers and books have been written about the role of sleep and dreams in processing of memories about the past but there have been few if any publications about the role of sleep and dreams in processing ideas or thoughts about the future. There have been, to be sure, sporadic publications about putative links between ‘precognition’ and dreams but these links are difficult to study and hard to substantiate scientifically.
We here at Dreamboard believe that dreams play a fundamental role in shaping personal visions for the future and that is one reason why they are important sources for wholeness and well-being. Dreams very likely play a leading role in what scientists have begun to term “episodic prospection” or “episodic future thought” *. “Episodic” is a technical term that refers to information processed by the brain in chunks or temporally-defined /delimited episodes. Examples of episodic future thought include key processes involved in planning, development of goals, generation of desires, mental simulations of possible worlds, conjectures, hypothesis generation, imagination of future scenarios and contingencies, delayed discounting of future rewards relative to present rewards, prospective memory or remembering to do x at time t, devising implementation intentions, and daydreaming to name a few.
What is the evidence that dreams participate in these varied forms of episodic future thinking? At present there is no empirical evidence to speak to the matter but that is because scientists have not yet systematically investigated the idea. But on the face of it dreams have to be involved in episodic future thought. In dreams the dreamer is virtually always desiring, planning, imaging, plotting, striving, simulating possible worlds, and in general aiming at some future outcome. Anyone who has content analyzed even a handful of dreams, (never mind the thousands that I have) soon realizes that most dreams contain the words “I was trying to do x when y prevented me or z interrupted me and the dream suddenly changed to p”. Dreams are goal driven and that is why they are sometimes spoken of as narratives, stories or episodes.
And here is a very interesting crucial fact: When brain correlates of episodic future thought processes are compared with episodic memory processes one difference stands out. In episodic future thought the anterior hippocampus is activated. During the night REM alternates with NREM forms of sleep and this alternation is known to subserve memory consolidation processes. In REM the primary output field of the hippocampus, the CA1 region, is disrupted (perhaps by rising cortisol level during REM) so information transmission from the hippocampus to the neocortex is halted or reduced during REM. But information processing in the anterior portion of the hippocampus is not halted. Indeed, it may be enhanced during REM sleep** and this anatomical region, of course, is crucial for episodic future thought. It may be that the products of episodic future thought processes that take place during REM are transmitted to cortical regions during NREM and waking but their generation depends in part on REM activation of the anterior hippocampus.
In summary, dreams very likely play a far more substantial role in shaping our thoughts, goals and aspirations about the future than previously suspected. Dreams operate much more powerfully to shape future oriented strivings than they do past memories. It may not be unreasonable to suppose that sleep and dreams process information about the past (i.e. memories) only in so far as that information is used to simulate possible future states of affairs for the dreamer. This contention underlines the importance of working with dream images if one wishes to cultivate a rich set of goals and ‘visions’ for the future.
* Szpunar, K. (2010). Episodic Future Thought: An Emerging Concept. Perspectives on Psychological Science 5: 142, DOI: 10.1177/1745691610362350
** Dang-Vu TT, Schabus M, Desseilles M, Sterpenich V, Bonjean M, Maquet P; Functional neuroimaging insights into the physiology of human sleep. Sleep. 2010 Dec;33(12):1589-603
Patrick McNamara, PhD
Chief Scientific Advisor, Dreamboard Inc.
Technology is rebuilding the healthcare field. In the near future, sensors, applications, and various kinds of devices will track almost all our daily activities as well as our vital parameters in order to monitor our health and give us feedback and warnings about our status.
This was the topic of this year’s UX Conference, organized by Sketchin at the University of Lugano this last October 26th. The title of the conference was “The future of healthcare” and the huge event drew 150 participants from all over the world. They debated issues regarding UX design and how future technology can change our approach to healthcare.
Obviously Dreamboard was there, and it was a real pleasure to talk about mental health and psychological therapies with different researchers and experts in the industry.
One of the most interesting presentations was the one by Rita Paradiso, who spoke about the PSYCHE project and Wearable monitoring systems based on Smart Fibers and Interactive Textiles (SFIT), platforms that combine imperceptible sensing and computing functions with an interactive communication network.
The interaction of sensors that collect “objective data” and also tracking tools like Dreamboard that collecting thoughts, sensations or even entire dreams will design our future. We will wake up in the morning and know exactly how we slept during the night, why we feel refreshed or not, and during the day we can monitor our feelings about specific situations, events and people and also be able to understand if the physical activity we are engaged in is right for us.
Another remarkable presentation, again in the neuroscientific and psychological field, was that of Paolo Decaro. Paolo developed the “A on Mars” project as a student in order to help autistic children get in touch with their emotions and with the world around them. “A on Mars” is a system composed of three devices: a wearable screen, a camera and a doll that follows the child through everyday life, helping him to understand the facial expressions of the people with whom he or she interacts. This is a great example of design at the service of people with problems that weigh heavily on the quality of their life.
Obviously there were many other interesting interventions on different subjects in this field, and we limit ourselves here to mentioning the ones most related to Dreamboard and our aims and experience, but you can read more about all of them at http://www.uxcon.com/.
We are grateful to the UX Conference and Sketchin team for the chance to meet so many people working to improve the daily life of every one of us, without distinction, and we are now more determined than ever to continue innovating, searching and discovering more and more ways to help people feel better in their mind and body.
Keep on following us!
How are you? Are you still tracking your dreams?
Here is some good news for you: dreams seem to have a crucial role in improving individual creativity.
Throughout history, many artists in different fields have been ispired by dreams.
For example, who is not familiar with “Yesterday” sung by Paul McCartney, one of the most popular songs in the history of music. It was written by Paul McCartney after a dream. In a famous interview he declared, “I have no idea how I wrote that. I just woke up one morning and it was in my head.”
Have you ever felt the same way? Have you ever woken up with a newly-hatched idea in your mind?
Another milestone in the history of music, “Satisfaction”, came to Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones’ guitarist, during a dream after a concert on June 5, 1965.
Literature is full of references dreams. Consider, for example, one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces, “A midsummer night dream” where the entire story takes place in a sort of dreamy atmosphere where everything seems possibile. Isn’t this just like our dreams?
Consider also something completely different and far more terrifying like “Frankestein” by Mary Shelley. The young writer, just 18 years old, was haunted by a scary conversation between Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelly and she saw “the pale student of unhallowed arts” (as she herself said) in her dreams the following night.
But also in contemporary literature there are many examples of authors being inspired by dreams. “The Twilight Saga”, for example, was born from a dream of Stefanie Myer in which she saw a young woman and a vampire falling in love despite a great number of difficulties.
A lot of artistists, both painters and sculptors, transferred scenes from their dreams into their works.
Man Ray, the American modernist artist who gave decisive input to Dadaism and Surrealism, used to say, “I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive.”
The most famous painter inspired by dreams was of course Salvador Dalí, from Spain. Everything in his works seems to be derived from oneiric visions, suspended in time and space.
What about you? Have you ever been creatively inspired by your dreams?
here some curiosities and observations on the relation between dreams and creativitiy.
The question is: can working with dreams enhance creativity? We do not yet know for sure but all the available evidence suggests that the answer will be yes once all the evidence is in.
Evidence for a dream creativity link
There are many anecdotal reports of creative inspiration deriving from dreams. We all know the examples of Kekule’s ascription of his discovery of the structure of the benzene ring from a dream. Robert Louis Stevenson apparently derived his ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ stories from a dream. Stephen King apparently drew inspiration for the story of the ‘Shining’ in part, from a nightmare and Ingmar Bergmann derived his ‘Wild Strawberries’ from some of his dream images. Similar stories can be culled from the testimonies of numerous artists working in virtually all domains from paintings (e.g. Slavador Dali) to music (e,g. the Beatles’ “yesterday” and several others) (Stickgold and Walker, 2004).
These anecdotal reports of a link between dreams and creativity, furthermore, can now be supplemented with experimental data. Schredl (2000) noted that 28% of student volunteers reported creative inspirations from dreams at least twice a year. That estimate of dream-induced creativity however must surely be too low. Semantic priming techniques have revealed that we are faster in accessing disparate associations after a bout of REM sleep than we are in accessing strong associations. Something about REM enhances our abilities to access more distant semantic associations to a given stimulus. For example, after REM sleep we are better at making associations between animals not typically associated such as dog-elephant than we are in making more typical associations such as dog-cat (Stickgold et al., 1999). That enhanced ability to cognitively reach for the more distant association is fundamental to thinking outside the box and arriving at novel insights. Indeed, it seems clear now that after a good night’s dream-rich sleep we have improved ability to solve anagram problems, or to suddenly “see” the solution to a difficult problem that eluded us before we engaged in the sleep (Walker et al., 2009). The available data suggests that the kind of sleep we need to enhance our creative abilities is dream-rich, REM sleep. For example, subjects who had engaged in REM sleep during a daytime nap did better on a remote associates task (RAT) than those who had engaged in NREM during the nap or those subjects who did not sleep at all during the nap period (Cai et al., 2009).
Evidence against the dream-creativity link
Consider that despite all the anecdotal reports concerning the instances of creativity ascribed by creators to their dreams (e.g. the song ‘Yesterday’ arriving fully formed to Paul McCartney in a dream), there are no reports of loss of creativity in individuals who do not dream frequently or individuals with suppressed REM sleep and dream recall due to ingestion of anti-depressant medications that suppress core aspects of REM. If dreaming and its associated REM sleep biology truly enhanced creativity one would suppose that suppression of dreaming and REM would also suppress creativity. Does it? We do not know. I know of no studies of creativity in individuals with clearly documented suppression of REM or in individuals who do not frequently recall their dreams. Even if such studies were carried out and we found no loss of creativity in individuals on anti-depressants that suppress REM sleep would that mean that REM sleep and dreaming had nothing to do with creativity? Clearly not. Note that if we found that individuals on antidepressants had reduced creativity we would need to know their baseline creativity in order to estimate the extent to which creativity was reduced.
Dreamboard users can help scientists solve the problem of the dream-creativity link by simply adding some background material on themselves. Do they have any health conditions? Are they taking medications and if so list them and their dosages. What kind of work do they do-simply name your work title. These simple pieces of information would give us the data we need to investigate associations of dream content to measures of creativity while holding constant background subject – specific information such as health and medication regimens.
Dreamboard users can also use their dreams to enhance their daily creativity. As you build your dreamboard catalog of dreams, you can look over your evaluations of past dreams in terms of emotional tone, colors, characters, and other content indices and then note associations between any of these content indices and your daily creativity levels. You may notice, for example, that as your dreams become more turbulent, emotional, red and complex so too does your daily creative output. Note that you can tell that the enhanced creative output is actually due to the changing dream content because that dream content does not always reflect your daytime mood or your daytime waking activities. Your dreams may become turbulent even though your daily life does not seem so.
So we urge you to begin experimenting with your dreams as a tool to enhance your daily creativity. Please let us know how you fare in your explorations!
Patrick McNamara, PhD
Chief Scientific Advisor, Dreamboard Inc.