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What happens to the brain during dreaming? Before 1952, nothing was known about this. Most scientists agree that there is no activity in the brain during sleep.
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Later, a graduate of the University of Chicago, Eugene Asselinsky, used an EEG machine to detect the sleeping brain of his 8-year-old son. An EEG is a machine used to detect the weak electrical signals emitted by brain activity, and it can record the detected EEG on recording paper.
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He found unexpected results. Every few hours while the child was asleep, the electroencephalogram pen would suddenly shake violently, indicating frequent brain activity. At the same time, the child’s eyeballs would rotate rapidly under the closed eyelids. Finally, when the stylus shook violently again, Asselinsky woke his son, who told him he was dreaming.
In this way, Arthur Linsky discovered “rapid eye movement” sleep, and dreams occur during rapid eye movement sleep. When kittens and puppies sleep, their eyes move under closed eyelids, and they are likely dreaming. Usually the kitten’s paws also move, and the puppy will make a slight rumble from the throat.
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During REM sleep, brain waves are slow and smooth, which is consistent with initial speculation. But during REM sleep, when dreaming, the shape of brain waves is strikingly similar to that of awake brain waves.
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However, the dreaming state is significantly different from the waking state. Nightmares are always full of monsters; even in sweet dreams, the storyline is chaotic and illogical. In a dream, you may accidentally drop change on the ground, but when you reach for it, you find that the change has suddenly turned into a worthless stone.
The story structure in dreams is often absurd and bizarre. When we wake up, we usually wonder how the several things that appear in the dream are connected? But in the process of dreaming, these things will be combined into a complete storyline. Through long-term experiments and research, Martin Seligman, an expert in experimental psychology at the University of Minnesota, has established a set of theories that can explain this phenomenon.
According to Seligman’s theory, every time there is a sharp change in brain waves during the dream process, an image will appear in front of you. Typically, the dream phase lasts 10 to 30 minutes, during which time, bursts of brain waves cause one image after another to appear in the dream. The first may be a big tree; the second is an old house. The brain tries to connect these unrelated images together, so the things in these images are compiled into a bizarre “story” plot. The story could be a comedy, tragedy, or horror, depending on the mood of the dreamer at the time.
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When the human body is stimulated by signals from the outside world, it will respond in the same way, weaving these stimuli into the storyline. Early in the morning, the alarm clock on the bedside table goes off. At this time, an alarm clock in your dream also goes off to remind you that it’s time to get out of class and start packing up your books and getting ready to go home. In short, your brain will quickly associate the sounds in your surroundings with how you are feeling at this time, and then weave them all into the storyline.
How do dreams come about? Today, sleep scientists have enough knowledge to answer this question. But “why we dream” remains a mystery. Seligman, however, is convinced that his theory of “dream structure” will surely inspire scientists who study “why we dream”. Perhaps what dreams bring to us (and all other animals that dream) is a practical way of knowing the world. We have to organize, understand and reminisce about what we see, hear and feel every day. Dreams provide us with an opportunity to piece together pieces of the story of our lives. In fact, every night, we are knowing ourselves and the world.
It also explains why babies spend so much time sleeping and dreaming, Seligman said. They quickly learn the skills necessary to truly understand the things, thoughts and feelings in this vast world.