[Neuroscience] Re: Dreaming well explained

John H. j_hasenkam at yahoo.com.au
Sun Sep 10 14:57:20 EST 2006

Hey Peter,

I don't doubt that the explanations of the research you quoted, and
your addition to the same, have validity.

An issue I have been struggling with for a long time now is that the
categories we create for understanding biological processes can be
quite arbitrary and often misleading. Eg. Interleukin 1 is typically
regarded as the primary immunological inflammatory messenger molecule.
It also plays important roles in maintenance of LTP, age related
cognitive impairment, neurogenesis, healing, and can skew endocrine
functions. Incidentally, il-6 can potentiate il-1 mediated effects but
usually only the bad ones like systemic inflammation,
neurodegeneration, hpa axis activation, athersclerosis, depression, and
various degenerative conditions. .

We seem to have this tendency to always find "prime causative agents"
yet the more I read this bewildering array of confusing literature the
search for the same obscures the multiplicity of causative factors
typically involved in biological and more particularly physiological
processes. Me thinks we currently lack the conceptual tools to plumb
these depths.

In relation to dreams the point is that dreams and sleep can serve a
multitude of functions. In my early 20's I had a terrible nightmare,
woke up drenched in sweat and utterly convinced that this dream was
trying to tell me something very important. It started me investigating
dreams but too late: two years later the "prophecy" in the dream came
true and never forgave myself for not realising that this dream was
trying to warn me of how seriously astray I had gone. Amazingly, when I
recounted this dream to a friend he said he knew of someone in a very
similiar situation who had the near same dream and came to the same
conclusions as myself. That was my last nightmare and one of the very
few bad dreams I have ever experienced. The universe is spooky.

I have never had an "epiphany" from dreams and for the most part my
dreams are a meaningless scramble of thoughts; though often related to
daily thinking patterns. Perhaps that scramble reflects differing
search strategies that can be initiated in the absence of sustained
attention on a subject; which may go some way to explaining that after
long periods of investigation into a subject, not thinking about it
stimulates new ideas in a rather spontaneous fashion.

Yes, take seriously the issue of good sleep. If you live in an urban
environment this is particularly important. Even ambient light can
impact on sleep(and very slightly on melatonin production) and sounds
are a real problem. Studies have shown that we can wake up momentarily
several times a night without ever knowing it. These days I use both a
sleep mask and ear plugs and the effect on sleep depth is quite
remarkable. Of particular concern in relation to chronic sleep
deprivation is the following:

In one anonymous survey (R, Dement, The Promise of Sleep), it was found
that 42% of medical personnel claimed that at least one patient under
their care had died because of fatigue related errors.
It is tragically laughable that the medical profession should ignore
such matters! Who do they think they are: suprahuman? Wouldn't surprise
me given the pretentiousness I've witnessed in some doctors; though in
these days that has largely abated and in my presence at least quickly
dissolves ... .

PS: something strange about sleep: in some birds it has been documented
that they can keep migrating because half their brain sleeps while the
other half remains awake. Know a few humans like that and certainly
explains a lot about Australian politics ... .



Entertained by my own EIMC wrote:
> Hi John
> You are near-perfect in your analysis - as usual. :-)
> In being so you this time also covered what I meant (but did not quite as
> perfectly write).
> I should have written (in respect of the Finnish guy's theorizing) that:
> It is not inept to enrich his evolution-theoretical explanation - which is
> an explanation pertaining to the information processing part of the adaptive
> values of dreaming or, more generally, sleeping) - with the notion of
> off-line trialing ("rehearsing") of ways to take advantage of
> environmentally available (and potentially to phylogenetically pay off)
> "opportunities".
> Recognizing and adding this constructive/positive side to this didactic
> dichotomy of the "evolutionary patterning totality" (i.e.
> "adversity"_"opportunity" type events/potentials/tendencies) produces a more
> balanced (less imperfectly plotted) picture of What Is/was going on to makes
> things be how they are.
> IOW, in this case this to me 'relatively right' theory would increasingly
> contribute to an encompassing philosophical/theoretical postion of
> understanding if it was more multifocal. That is, if it in addition to
> focusing mainly on the possibility of REM-state rehearsals of how to evade
> or deal with probable and/or impending lifetime/phylogenetic pressures of
> predicament type included what you so easily brought to bear on the pursuit
> of a science-aligned picture of what we do on the pillow.
> In summary, it seems (as far as I can see) that we, as part of a lineage of
> evolving animal species and as individuals, 'successfully sleep' because
> sleep allows us to (is a manifestation of a workable 'strategy' for
> promoting reproductive survival by) chemically recharge (optimize)our brain
> and bodily tissues, for staying out of harms way (in case of
> individuals/species whose eyes are not well enough night-vision-adapted) and
> to better deal with lifetime challenges of adverse as well as of opportune
> character.
> My dream addressing topic starter was of course only a paranthesis in my
> plugging of a recognition (and simple but encompassingly explanatory
> philosophical thesis and etymologically pioneering thinking in terms of that
> our phylogeny has frequently mixed "synaptic (selective or specific)
> hibernation" imploring/inducing type situations or ditto predicaments or
> ordeals (causing potentially painful extra selective pressures of
> neurophysiologically piled-up imprints that I think can well be called
> CURSES) with procreation promoting and 'phenotyping' intrinsic and
> environmental opportunities (or, IOW, *positive* selection pressures, or
> *primarily constructive* evolutionary patterning tendencies).
> Also, I shall take what you wrote as a warning, to try to get more sleep!
> (This since I don't really seek to become more senile, and semantically
> vague (by stuffing up even more sentences), than I already am.
> Cheers,
> Peter

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