Dreaming and memory consolidation (w/ Prof. Mark Blagrove @Mark_Blagrove)

February 26, 2019 @ 6:10 pm – 7:10 pm
Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre, Whitehead Building, Goldsmiths University of London
8 Lewisham Way
London SE14 6PP
Prof. Christopher French

There is considerable research on how REM sleep and Slow Wave Sleep are related to memory consolidation. These consolidation processes prioritize emotional and salient memories. Dreaming also incorporates emotional memories from waking life, and so it has been proposed that dreaming reflects functional neural processes during sleep. Arguments in favor and against this possibility will be explored. That dreams refer to waking life experiences in an associative or metaphorical manner has been seen to be a result of processes of linking new memories to established memories, guided by emotions common to each. That we are embodied in the dream, in a simulation of the waking world, may be required for full processing of emotions, or may have another, practice-based virtual reality function. Separate from the debate on dream function is the debate on whether the consideration of dreams by the dreamer, when awake, can elicit insight. This possibility is supported by the finding that dreams preferentially incorporate emotional experiences and refer to them metaphorically. Designs for testing this against the null hypothesis, that dreams do not tell us anything new, will be discussed.

NB: Preceding his talk (from 5 pm to 6 pm in Room 219A of the Richard Hoggart Building), Mark Blagrove will run an experiential Ullman dream appreciation group with artwork produced so as to revisit the dream. Note that, although there is no need to book, places on this workshop are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Professor Mark Blagrove researches the memory consolidation functions of sleep, the relationship of dreaming to memory consolidation and to waking life events and concerns, and the effects on the dreamer and on listeners of considering and discussing dream content.

Recent publications:

  • Comparing personal insight gains due to consideration of a recent dream and consideration of a recent event using the Ullman and Schredl dream group methods. Frontiers in Psychology, 2015, 6, 831.
  • The dream-lag effect: Selective processing of personally significant events during Rapid Eye Movement sleep, but not during Slow Wave Sleep. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 2015, 122, 98-109.
  • Sleep-dependent memory consolidation is related to perceived value of learned material. Journal of Sleep Research, 2017, 26, 302 – 308.
  • Incorporation of recent waking-life experiences in dreams correlates with frontal theta activity in REM sleep. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2018, 13, 637-647.
  • Insight from the consideration of REM dreams, Non-REM dreams and daydreams. Psychology of Consciousness (APA) (in press)

All APRU talks are open to staff, students and members of the public. Attendance is free and there is no need to book in advance. You are strongly recommended to register (at no cost) with the APRU’s “Psychology of the Paranormal” email list to ensure that you are informed of any future changes to the programme as well as news of related events. You can also follow @chriscfrench on Twitter for announcements (including news of last-minute cancellations, changes of venue, etc.). Visit: http://www.gold.ac.uk/apru/email-network/